John Schmoll receives a ballot to vote on the revised school budget Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Kaylee Sullivan)

On second try, school budget passes

Top: John Schmoll receives a ballot to vote on the revised school budget Tuesday afternoon. Above: Allan Mackenzie signs in with election officials at the Milton town offices. (Photos by Kaylee Sullivan)

Milton voters headed to the polls once again Tuesday, this time passing a revised $29.2 million school budget for fiscal year 2018.

The measure is a 1.98 percent, or $565,204, increase from the current fiscal year. Voters approved the ballot item by 87 votes: 758 to 671, official results show.

“It’s a good day, and I just appreciate every ‘yes’ vote,” superintendent Ann Bradshaw said Tuesday night.

With the newly approved budget, education spending per equalized pupil will climb to $14,585, a 3.56 percent increase, over the current year.

Business manager Don Johnson estimated taxpayers with a $250,000 home will see a $11.57 monthly raise on their tax bills.

On Town Meeting Day in early March, voters shot down the original $30.1 million proposed budget, a 5.45 general fund increase, 1,038 to 677. Education spending per equalized pupil would have increased by 6.79 percent.

School administrators were sent back to the drawing board to see where cuts could be made. One decrease came from diminishing newly proposed programming focused on special education and behavioral intervention.

When school trustees approved the $29 million revised proposal late last month, Bradshaw said the district planned to hold off on hiring and making specific cuts until a budget passed.

Now that the district has voters’ approval, Bradshaw said it will post job openings, such as fall athletic coaching positions and a newly proposed world language teacher.

It’s late in the hiring season, though, Bradshaw said, so they have to get moving.

Two school psychologist positions were posted previously, she added, because the change in programming was cost effective at $8,000. The two in-house positions are traded for current contracted services through the Howard Center.

Specific details about what the FY18 budget brings, she said, are still under revision.

“I’m just happy that now we can really concentrate on the work ahead of us rather than retooling,” Bradshaw said. “Now we can move forward in a positive direction and do the best we can with what we have.”

Bradshaw said a couple teachers were handed official reduction-in-force notices, and others were given warning their position could be eliminated. She’ll revisit that to see what final staffing cuts need to occur, she said.

Milton resident and mother Janina Reinhardt talks with election officials Tuesday, expressing a need for the school budget to pass. Children’s education in Milton, she said, depended on it. (Photo by Kaylee Sullivan)

At Monday’s budget informational meeting — attended by school administrators and one community member — Bradshaw reiterated the district will reassign current staff new duties to inch toward its goal of bettering culture and enrichment in Milton schools.

Of the town’s 8,190 registered voters, 1,429 people showed to the polls, town clerk Sheryl Prince confirmed — a 17.4 percent turnout and about 300 fewer voters than the 21 percent turnout in March.

Once the original proposal failed, school trustees, administrators and concerned residents gathered to brainstorm how to get more people to the polls.

Leading up to Tuesday, signs scattered Route 7 and surrounding areas to remind residents of the upcoming vote. When vote day arrived, a group of enthusiastic individuals lined the roadway, encouraging people to turn into the town offices.

Between Town Meeting Day and the revote, 40 more Miltonians registered to vote. About another 12 registered on Tuesday.

“We’re gaining trust, and that’s a good thing,” Bradshaw said. “We want to do more of that. Engage parents more, engage the community more and really get everybody working together toward a common goal.”

Editor’s note: This story originally said taxpayers with a $250,000 home will see a $21 monthly raise on their tax bills. This number was the increase for the budget that failed on Town Meeting Day. The approved maximum estimated FY18 increase is actually $11.57. We regret the error. 

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  • Fraulein Rissa Lynn Michelson

    W didn’t have 2 principals and 2 PSYCHIATRISTS IN OUR school system (1960s). We had good principals and a guidance counsellor. Parents were responsible for disciplining their child, and for their child’s mental heath care upon school recommendation. That is why we voted against it. Too much has changed and for all the wrong reasons. WHY????

    • Dick Deforge

      Fraulein ….. Bottom line is MONEY . At $14,585.00 cost per student is outrageous .It will happen again next year and they will want more money and the sad part is they will get it . Time to CUT administration staff , teachers positions and general spending . I also voted NO . Time to have a Milton tax payers group started to stop these worthless budget increases . We also need a School Board who knows reality , time for some new board members .

      • Fraulein Rissa Lynn Michelson

        I agree 100% with your reply. One other issue just occurred to me…. senior citizens, as we are, should get some kind of a tax break because we do not
        utilize the school system in any form. We never had children in the school system. We deserve some consideration. Property taxes already are making our retirement difficult. To add the burden of these constantly increasing, totally wasteful school budgets is just too much. Residents of Milton who have children in the system should be shouldering the majority of the burden, not seniors, retired and on fixed incomes. And that’s my 2 cents worth.

  • Cletus Flynn

    Great. The schools get what they wanted. Now. When is the Town of Milton going to budget infrastructure for the property tax payers of this town? McMullen Road and many others are lined with endless potholes devaluing our property. The taxpayers want action on these issues and soon!