By Kristin Bednarski
Milford Exempted Village School District are asking voters to pass an operating levy for the district in a special election May 7.
The district was 253 votes away from passing the levy during the November election with 49.43 percent of voters in favor of the levy and 50.57 percent of voters opposed to the levy.
“We have made cuts since the last levy failed,” Superintendent Dr. Robert Farrell said about the district. “We are at a point now where we have to preserve what we have. Further cuts will damage the progress and opportunities of our kids.”
Farrell said the district has had outstanding performance in recent years.
“Our students are performing fantastic,” he said. “Our results are the highest in the history of Milford. Each year we are setting new records for student achievement.”
Andrea Brady, a member of the board of education, said they have been trying to make cuts while maintaining the quality of education at the district, but it is becoming more difficult.
“The Milford School District has been working for the past five years to reduce expenses and find creative ways to deliver a high quality of education,” Brady said. “We have reduced over $4 million from our budget and are continuing to look for opportunities to save.”
Brady said this year, however, the state cut an additional $4 million from the budget.
“Given how lean we are currently running, there is no way we can find $4 million in savings without greatly affecting what we provide for our students,” Brady said.
Brady said the 4.5 mill levy on the ballot May 7 is the lowest new operating levy the district has ever asked for.
Brady said the levy would generate $3.9 million per year, which she said is still several hundred thousand dollars short of what the district is losing.
After the levy failed in November, and since board members decided to put the levy on the ballot May 7, the levy committee has been working feverishly to educate community members and persuade them to vote.
Kristen Brown, co-chair of the levy committee, said they have amazing, passionate volunteers who have been meeting and working on the levy campaign since January.
“As of late, we have been working to make direct voter contact,” Brown said. “We are doing that through neighborhood canvases.”
Brown said by the time the neighborhood canvases are complete, more than 100 volunteers will have knocked on approximately 7,000 doors in the community.
She said as they get closer to the election they will focus on reaching out to community members by phone.
“Our campaign has been about finding every yes vote and making sure they are registered,” Brown said.
She said they have been helping individuals make a plan to vote absentee or on election day and have also been helping people register to vote.
Brown said they are spreading the message about state budget cuts, reductions at the district and district performance.
“Milford schools are excellent,” Brown said. “They are in the top 10 percent. It is important to keep things in place so that can continue.”
Farrell said the board members decided to put the levy on the May special election ballot mostly because they needed to.
“What happens is when a November levy fails, you receive no new funds in 2013,” he said. “In May you receive funds in 2014. In order for us to plan the school year, it is important to know what funds are available.”
He said if the levy fails again, the district will be looking at significant cuts for the 2014 school year including cutting teachers, reducing transportation to state minimums, increasing athletic fees and more.
For more information about the Milford Exempted Village School District levy visit www.milfordschools.org.