Please visit my new school board blog page!

September 21, 2013

Hello everyone,I have a new blog page!  As you likely have noticed, I did not structure this blog correctly when I started it four years ago, and it’s gotten a little out of hand.  Instead of trying to fix it (which would be a monumental task!), I have started a new blog.  This site will remain live and will serve as an archive of the past four years.

Please visit my new site at

As always, thank you for your support!


Highlights of 8/15/13 school board meeting

August 19, 2013

BAC recommends school district divest itself of Milford Main

Here are the highlights from the 8/15/13 school board meeting:

  • The Business Advisory Council (BAC) presented their findings re: Milford Main.  Click here for the article.
  • The board approved appropriations for Fiscal Year 2014 (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014).  The state’s budget is not yet finalized, and the funding formula has not been finished.  Once we know our final funding, we will update appropriations.  However, it was important to have a budget to work from for the year, and expenditures are extremely conservative.
  • The calendar has changed slightly.  What affects families is that Friday, September 20 has been changed to a Waiver Day (no school for students).
  • The turf is almost ready to go!  While it may seem to the naked eye that progress has been slow, the turf installation company has actually been working steadily.  The process was delayed a bit due to the extremely wet weather, but the turf should be ready for the first game on Saturday, August 31!  The first varsity game and “ribbon cutting” will be held on Friday, September 6.  Thank you again to the Athletic Boosters for all their hard work in making this happen at no installation cost to the district!  For more information on the turf and the Athletic Boosters’ generous support, click here.

Highlights from 6/20/13 school board meeting

June 25, 2013

* Athletic Boosters to install artificial turf in HS football field
* All taxpayers have the right to share their positions on tax issues

  • Last year, Food Service managed 28 programs at 23 different schools with over 100 employees.  They took over custodial labor for the kitchens, provided catering at no charge for select district events, and started a meal program for our police and firepeople.  They implemented a more efficient management process based on a central manager concept.  They worked with wellness programs, allergies, a district garden and other medical conditions.  By serving other districts, including St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Wyoming, Madeira and others, they were able to repay the district’s general fund for services they used, such as accounting, utilities, and more.  This is especially notable since most school district food service programs require additional investment from the general fund.
  • The district recognized our safety services personnel from Milford and Miami Township.  These public servants support our schools and district in a variety of ways, from DARE and other programs, to resource officers, to security training.  Thank you, police & fire personnel!
  • Our 2012-13 budget is still on track, and we will have final numbers in July.
  • Sarah Greb Becker will be the new principal at Seipelt Elementary.  Sarah has experience as a teacher and also as assistant principal at the Junior High.  Despite enjoying her time with the 7th & 8th graders, she is excited to get back to the elementary level, her first love.

Highlights from 5/16/13 school board meeting

May 18, 2013

Two new elementaries will be built at no extra cost to community
English/Language Arts curriculum revised
Athletic updates
Extracurricular updates

  • Pay It Forward Day at the junior high was a huge success. Seventh graders went out into the community and completely many tasks.  Eighth graders provided supplies and funds.  It was an unbelievable day with lots of positive feedback from community members.  But it couldn’t have happened without the bus drivers who contributed their time to take our students around to different sites.  They also gave of themselves on Pay It Forward Day, and we thank you!
  • The Milford Schools Foundation announced their grants for Spring, 2013.  They provided 59 grants totally over $38k, bringing their total grants over the last 3.5 years to over $130k!  The district and everyone who receive a grant thanks the Foundation for their hard work and dedication to our schools and students!
  • Our budget is on track for 2012-13.  We will be closing out accounts in the next month.  Right now, we are showing a small savings vs. budget.  We will have more details in the next few months.
  • The board approved the revised 5-Year Forecast, which must be filed with the state by the end of May.  The forecast shows the levy holding us steady for the next three years, with a $5+ million deficit in 2017.  However, we expect that to change as more is learned about state funding.  We may also have additional expenses as we figure out requirements for the new evaluation system and other mandates (health insurance, etc) that must be added to our systems in the next few years.  We are still hoping to stretch the levy dollars farther than 3 years, and we will know much more in October, and even more as we work our way through new requirements.
  • The board approved a resolution in opposition to the expansion of the Edchoice Scholarship program.  This expands vouchers to K and Grade 1, and for families in income brackets up to 200% of the poverty level, despite the performance of your home school district.
  • This year, the district has a formal summer reading program for every grade level.  At the elementary level, schools have always offered ideas, but this year we wanted a more comprehensive and coordinated structure.  Each elementary school will have a summer reading list posted on their website.  Reading selections will be listed by grade level, allowing students to choose the level they need (i.e., students do not have to read just books listed for the grade they are in; they can choose based on their ability).  There will be activities and they will be required to log minutes.  All buildings will be in touch with families this summer, through email, C-Notify, phone calls and even Facebook messages.  There will be incentives and celebrations along the way.
  • The JH/HS summer reading program can be found at  This website, which was created by our ELA teachers, outlines requirements for each class.  Novels and activies are part of the program this year.
  • Missy Borger, who has served as principal of Seipelt Elementary since 2004, will be moving to the principal position at Pattison Elementary next year.  Mrs. Borger has done a wonderful job at Seipelt, and brought the school to the highest performance level in the district.  Pattison is excited to have her.
  • A committee has been formed to search for a new principal for Seipelt Elementary.  There are many good candidates already, which will go to committee in the next week or two.  I am excited to be serving on that committee, as my daughter is a Seipelt alumn and we loved our time there.  While we can never replace Mrs. Borger, we will find someone just as good to follow in the path she has created.
  • The board met in executive session to discuss security for our buildings.  While security procedures are confidential, rest assured we are working to ensure our buildings are as safe as possible for all our students.

Thank you, Milford!

May 7, 2013

Here’s a huge thank you to all those in the Milford school district for passing the operating levy!  We greatly appreciate your trust in the school board and administration to manage your hard-earned money properly, and our teachers and staff to provide a high-quality education to your children.  I know the tax increase from the levy is a financial sacrifice for everyone, and for some it will be a significant hardship.  I wish there had been a different solution, but the state put us in an untenable position:  either cut valuable and necessary programs and services, or ask the community to make up the funding they cut from our budget.

The district promised this levy will last at least three years.  As long as I am on the school board, I promise to work to stretch these funds as far as possible.  We will also continue to seek out other sources of revenue and new options to run our business more efficiently.

For now, the good news is there will be no more reductions to what we offer.  Unfortunately, the reductions made after the November levy failed will stay in place; thankfully, we were able to find options that made a relatively small impact on our students.  The levy will not allow us to add any programs or services, but we will continue the path we are on, refining what we are providing with the goal of continuing to improve the quality of education.

Thank you again for your support.  As always, please feel free to get in touch with any questions, concerns, ideas, etc.

Go Eagles!

Highlights from 4/19/13 school board meeting

April 19, 2013

Realtor Kevin Duffy presents video on levy
Managing the community’s money wisely
“Cheating’s not our fault”
Athletic Update
Extracurricular Update

  • Four students from New Taipei City in China who are part of the Cincinnati Culture and Education Exchange Program are attending Milford this spring.  The students and their host families were recognized and welcomed.
  • The current year’s budget is on track with the $750,000 that was reduced following the November levy failure, and also the 3% reduction of non-personnel expenditures.  We will know more about where we will finish the year after this month.
  • Treasurer Debbie Caudle reported that the average spending by Ohio school districts in 2011-12 was $10,597/pupil.  Milford’s spending was $9,332.  If we were to spend the same amount as an average Ohio district, we would have to add over $8 million to our budget!  For more perspective on our cost/pupil, and to see how the state number is actually higher than it should be, read this article.
  • Donations were accepted from Kerry & Margaret Byrne ($250) and Thomas A. Wildey School (equipment valued at $2,206.35)
  • The Senior Summer Reading book is Where Am I wearing? By Kelsey Timmerman.  Our high school English department collaborated with Northern Kentucky University on the selection of this book.  Their freshmen will read the same book, and a group of seniors will visit NKU next year and take a class with NKU’s English students.  This is a program that started by accident this year, when Milford happened to choose the same book as NKU; it was so successful, we are continuing it next year!
  • George Lucas and Debbie Caudle attended the Miami Township Trustees meeting last Tuesday to discuss the levy; the Trustees are very supportive of the levy.  I attended the City of Milford Council meeting on Tuesday as well.  Council members were also very supportive of the levy and what the district is doing.

Highlights from 3/21/13 school board meeting

March 21, 2013

Seipelt Elementary named School of Promise
Teaching our children how to think
The simplicity of creativity
Basketball team enjoys special cakes
Athletic Update
Extracurricular Update

State of the School presentation, hosted by the Silver Eagles Community Outreach committee
Interview with Confidence program flyer

Realtor Kevin Duffy interviews Assistant Superintendent Tim Ackermann about details on the Milford school levy – click here

Here are the highlights from the March 21 school board meeting:

  • The Drug Free Coalition produced two public service announcements on staying drug- and alcohol-free, one by Junior High students, the other by High School students.  The HS version was entered in a community-wide competition and has received very strong scores; it is unknown whether they won yet.
  • We are 2/3 of the way through the budget year and still on track.  Treasurer Debbie Caudle is carefully monitoring the budget, including the areas where reductions were made.
  • The Senior Engagement Committee, a board committee designed to increase interaction between retirees and our students, changed its name to the Silver Eagles Community Outreach committee.
  • The Junior High will have required summer reading for all students starting this year, instead of just honors students.  It is extremely important to emphasize reading, and to keep students’ reading skill up during the summer months.  A number of exciting books have been chosen.  There will also be cross-curricular connections next school year, allowing interdisciplinary lessons with science and language arts.

Highlights from 2/21/13 school board meeting

February 22, 2013

The state of state funding
Taking time to think
Athletic Update
Extracurricular Update

The February 21, 2013 school board meeting was I believe the shortest I have experienced.  There is not that much new going on right now, but here are the highlights:

  • The Athletic Boosters annual fundraiser, Flight Night, will feature 2012 Reds Hall of Famer “The Mayor” Sean Casey and special guest Todd Benzinger.  The event, which will take place March 14 from 6-10:30 pm, will be MC’d by sports columnist Paul Daugherty.  Tickets are $50, with VIP tickets $100.  Call 576-2208 for ticket information.
  • Over 600 high school students have been invited to take AP classes next year.  Students are invited based on their scores on the PSAT and PLAN tests, which provide predictive information on what AP classes students are likely to do well in.  The EXPLORE test, the first in the ACT series (EXPLORE, PLAN, ACT) is given to eighth graders.  We are now using data from the EXPLORE test compared to student performance in ninth grade to predict success in honors classes.  Based on eighth grade EXPLORE tests and teacher recommendations, over 300 students have been invited to take honors classes their freshman year.  The honors program is a great feeder program into the AP program, and this type of evaluation as early as possible helps raise the rigor for our students, so they are college and career ready when they leave Milford.
  • Treasurer Debbie Caudle is monitoring the $750,000 in reductions made this year by line item to ensure these savings are achieved.  She expects no issue in achieving these and the other reductions the board requested for 2012-13 (2% of non-personnel expenses.
  • Thank you to Joe Kuethe, who donated eight flat screen monitors, valued at $400 each.

Highlights from 1/24/13 school board meeting

January 28, 2013

4.5 mill levy on ballot May 7, 2013
Athletic & Band Boosters providing fun morning to raise funds
Working with Columbus
Athletic Update
Extracurricular Update

Here is what happened at the Milford school board meeting on January 24, 2013:

  • R.J. Vilardo, a well-known name in all our schools for his unfailing support of education and our students, left us unexpectedly this past November.  R.J. will be remembered and honored by naming the Pattison Primary Playground in his memory.  This is especially fitting since in 2002, he helped secure the land for Pattison.  A committee consisting of Gregg Curless, principal at Pattison; George Lucas, school board member; Jeff Johnson, the district’s operations manager; and Bill Knepp, a community member and R.J.’s long-time friend, worked on the memorial.
  • The Milford Schools Foundation awarded $31,000 in grants, for a total of $94,000 awarded over the past two years.  The awards were for technology, curriculum materials, support programs and other items teachers and administrators need to help improve their programs.  These are items that would not be available other ways.  Thank you, Milford Schools Foundation, for your ongoing support!
  • November 2 will be the annual Night of the Stars, a fundraising dinner hosted by the Milford Schools Foundation.  Mark your calendar for a good time that helps our students and district!
  • The New Voices final exhibition will take place this Saturday, 2/2, at 1 pm at the Covenant First Presbyterian Church, 717 Elm St.  New Voices is a program between Milford High School photography students and City Gospel Mission, where students and residents explore Over-the-Rhine together in pictures and words.
  • The district will receive $136,000 in casino revenue this calendar year.  Next year, we will receive two payments from casino revenue, one in January and one in August.  We do not yet know the amount for next year.
  • Hilltop Research donated microscopes, cameras and other items, for a total of $10,000.  Thank you, Hilltop!
  • 69 sixth graders are in a math cohort group that will allow them to accelerate their math two years.  They start in sixth grade, accelerating their studies so they are able to start 9th grade math (the equivalent of Algebra) in seventh grade instead of the standard accelerated program that starts in eighth grade.  By their senior year of high school, they are then eligible to take the second year of Calculus, Calc BC, if they choose.  This is a great way to challenge our math-talented students, and we’re so proud of their hard work!
  • Student progress reports will now be available electronically.  This not only saves paper, but also allows us to utilize our electronic options (i.e., Progress Book) to help parents gain better and faster access to their students’ progress.  Paper copies are also available upon request, and HS report cards will still be sent home in paper form since GPA cannot be calculated through the online system.
  • Summer School is once again available for both recovery classes and original credit.  Summer School breaks even, not costing the district anything extra.  Milford students are given first priority; out-of-district students may attend if space is available for an extra $25.

Highlights from 12/20/12 school board meeting

December 21, 2012

“Looking with fresh eyes” – emergency response at Milford Schools
This year’s reductions
What does the future look like?
Working with Columbus
Milford HS named to AP Honor Roll
Athletics Update
Extracurricular Update

  • The district is well within our 3% savings goal on non-personnel items for this year.  Treasurer Debbie Caudle will keep the board updated on those savings, which were factored in to the Five-Year Forecast when it was filed in October.  The district also received a clean audit, and we are refinancing a loan to take advantage of the exceptionally low rates.
  • We are looking to reduce paper to “go green” and save money in any way possible.  As part of this, the board had the first reading of a revised policy on how progress reports are delivered to students.  Instead of mailing many reports, we will use Progress Book to deliver them electronically.  Anyone without computer access can of course still receive a paper copy, and certain reports, such as semester report cards at the high school, will still be mailed.  Thank you to the community members who have pointed out several places where the district was sending either unnecessary or multiple paper reports home – you are helping us streamline!
  • In honor of R.J. Vilardo, board member Debbie Marques made a motion to re-start a committee that partners with community seniors to help engage them with students and the district.  Ms. Marques asked me to co-chair the committee, which I am proud and pleased to do.
  • The After Prom committee is doing things a bit differently this year:  they are asking various groups, such as student groups and PTA/Os, to “sponsor” booths or activities at After Prom.  They asked the school board to take on a booth, and we have agreed.  This should be a fun (and very different!) thing for a school board to do together!