Milford voters once again derailed an attempt to pass an operating levy, this time by around 450 votes. In all, 5,698 voters cast their vote against the levy, while 5,243 voiced their support of the emergency levy.
“The only thing I can say is it’s a sad state for the community as a whole,” said Milford School Board Member David Yockey. “The first effect would be abandoning neighborhood schools and going to grade level buildings as a means of saving money. It’s unlikely that we will ever be able to go back to that simply because there will probably never be a time when the district will have that extra money laying around to go back to that, even though the district believes that it’s the best way of educating students.”
The neighborhood schools program is designed to bus students from a certain neighborhood to a school located in their neighborhood. Educating children grades kindergarten through sixth, the neighborhood schools are designed around smaller class sizes and neighborhood lifestyles.
Now though, that concept will be replaced with grade level schools where each neighborhood school will be changed into a grade specific school, such as becoming a school for grades five and six, allowing more children to be placed in one classroom and saving money.
However, Yockey said that it won't solve the district's financial problems.
"The problem of lacking money for other things still doesn't go away, even though switching to grade level schools will save some money," said Yockey. "It still doesn't solve the problem in the long term of funding the district and other programs are certain to be lost as time passes."
In January, the district enacted an emergency reduction to busing for some students, which would have been reinstated with a passed levy. However, due to the failure of the levy to pass, that reduction will remain in effect indefinitely. Other cuts made over the past two years will remain in place, and Yockey said that more will be coming in the future.
"The most immediate thing is the switch to grade level schools," said Yockey. "Otherwise, all of those cuts have gradually been put into place, and will continue. Down the road, there will be even more significant cuts, there has to be."
Yockey added that the levy will likely not appear again until at least November.
"Not immediately, at least, because a May levy would have to be done almost immediately," said Yockey. "The board has already discussed that and there won't be an attempt. We won't get the money until 2008 anyway, even if it passes in 2007. What will happen in November isn't known yet.