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February 22. 2013 11:08PM

Technology, renovations are top money items in Milford

MILFORD - Technology improvements are high on the list of priorities for the Milford School District going into voting day in March, but other warrant articles including the district's operating budget, renovations, and three collective bargaining agreements will need the voters' attention as well.

According to Superintendent Bob Suprenant, a bond request totaling just over $1.6 million will allow for a new roof and flooring for the middle school and let the district improve its Internet capacity at all of its schools so educators can make the most of online programs and information. Currently the district has substandard Internet access, said Suprenant.

"The school board has made great efforts to improve technology in the district," said Suprenant, "and the truth is, you can't teach kids what they need to learn without access to the Internet."

A survey conducted recently in the community said that students, staff and residents at large want to see increased technological advancements at the schools, and Suprenant said that each year he's seeing fewer textbooks, less paper and more reliance on online programs and content. Without the adequate infrastructure in the schools, including VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol) and fiber optics, the district's students can't get the online information they need.

In addition to the bond request, the district is seeking $80,000 in another warrant article to enter into a lease agreement to bring in fiber optic cables for phones and data.

The district's proposed operating budget of $37,186,596 - an increase of 2.4 percent over last year's budget - also includes money for technology including smart boards, desktop computers and laptops.

Voters will be asked to weigh collective bargaining agreements for teachers, support staff and paraprofessionals at the polls as well. The three-year contracts call for no cost of living increases in the first year, though the teacher's contract offers step increases for teachers with 15 years or less experience in the district. In the first year, the cost of the teacher's contract totals $223,758, support staff totals $18,234, and the paraprofessionals totals $12,773.

Another important issue, one that has divided the school board and the budget committee, is a request for $60,000 to purchase a tract of land next to the high school on West Street. The land, which sits just beyond the school's restaurant, Windows on West Street, would provide much needed parking spaces and is a rare opportunity at a good price, said Suprenant. But while the school board unanimously supports the purchase, the budget committee voted against recommending it, stating that the purchase was unnecessary, Suprenant said.

Voting in Milford will be held on March 12 at the Milford Middle School from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.


nfoster@newstote.com


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