School changes too fast?

MILFORD – Two Milford school principals said they are concerned that changes that are part of a proposed budget for next year are happening too quickly.

Answering questions from the Advisory Budget Committee at a four-hour meeting Nov. 17, Milford High School Principal Brad Craven said proposed staff cuts have had a negative impact.

“There is a fair amount of unease,” he said, because eliminating so many people “creates a lot of moving pieces” and it’s hard for the staff to know what the future will be.

The principal said he understands the need to face declining enrollments but wished he had another year, when attrition could be used.

“I have seen these numbers coming for a long time, and I have talked with the staff about not ducking” the problem, he said.

The proposed budget’s staff reductions at the high school include moving from full to part time a science teacher, an English teacher, a math teacher and a world language teacher.

The principal also expressed concerns about changes to the oversight of special education that he said would put a big case load on guidance counselors.

Craven did agree with the addition of another assistant principal and the cutting of an art teacher. That teacher is retiring, he said, and the opening offers the school the ability to hire the video production teacher full-time.

Chantal Alcox, principal of Heron Pond Elementary School, said she is excited about proposed class size reductions and the addition of a reading specialist, but she said changes may be coming too fast.

“My approach would be a little more deliberate,” she said. “Teachers can only absorb so much.”

Superintendent of Schools Jessica Huizenga cited the need for the district to not only adjust to enrollment declines but also to bring more resources to the younger grades. Third grade reading scores, she said, are well below state average.