Friday, April 09, 1999

Fairfield plan depends on levy

75 positions would take 5.9 mills

Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — A proposal to add nearly 75 positions to the Fairfield City Schools over the next five years would require passage of a 5.9-mill operating levy later this year.

        The plan, outlined by Assistant Superintendent Catherine Milligan at a recent school board meeting, proposes to add 57 teachers, four administrators and 131/2 support staff to the district.

        Doing so would allow the district to expand course offerings at the senior high school, lower class size in the elementary buildings, increase technology troubleshooters, add school psychologists, provide more intervention for struggling students, and meet requirements of new legislation.

        “We're proposing an aggressive plan,” Mrs. Milligan said. “It's time to do this. We have received a charge from our community to be an effective school (system). We've run a lean machine.”

        In the past seven years, voters have approved only 2 additional mills of taxes for the district, Ms. Milligan said. Yet during that same period the district added the kindergarten center and built a high school and East Elementary School. Tight finances curtailed the number of staff hired when the new buildings opened nearly two years ago.

        “We've only added staff if we were at risk of violating state or federal law or FCTA (teacher's union) guidelines if we didn't,” Mrs. Milligan said. “Our children are changing and their needs are changing.”

        Adding to the need for more staff are stiffer record-keeping guidelines for state reporting, new state regulations calling for children to be retained at the fourth grade if they don't pass the reading section of the fourth grade proficiency test, and additional graduation requirements in core academic areas mandated by the state, Mrs. Milligan said.

        An administrative team that included all of the district's building principals, each of whom spoke about a different component during the presentation, developed the plan. It calls for all of the administrative and classified positions to be added during the upcom ing school year. All but 14 of the teachers also should be hired next year, according to the plan.

        A 5.9-mill operating levy is needed to pay for the plan, and is recommended for the Nov. 2 ballot, Mrs. Milligan said. That levy would raise $5.4 million annually, according to projections made by former treasurer James Rowan. It would allow the district to remain solvent through June 2003.

        The cost to the owner of a $100,000 house would be about $180 per year.

        The board took no action on the proposal.


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