On Tuesday, December 11 the Milford School District held their final meeting with members of the community to discuss the future of the Milford Middle School and the possibility of closing the facility for the upcoming school year. A committee that included teachers, parents, business owners and community leaders discussed the current condition of the facility and agreed on a proposal for the future of MMS that will be submitted to the Milford Board of Education on Monday, January 28, 2013, during the first Board meeting of the new year.
Members of the committee were presented with two building analysis reports that were performed by Carolyn A. Cohee, a volunteer construction consultant for the Milford School District, and private architecture and site planning firm French & Ryan, Inc. Both reports agreed that the existing building is structurally safe for students and staff members at this current time but included data that confirmed the extensive damage to the interior and exterior building that in their estimation must be dealt with soon. According to Superintendent Phyllis Kohel, the Department of Education has also made it clear that Milford’s Middle School has aged out of its functional use and that any major construction would not be funded by the State of Delaware. The proposal to the Milford School Board will include a recommendation to close the Milford Middle School at the end of this school year or continue its use for an additional year to be closed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
“One way or another this year or next that school will close,” commented Dr. Kohel. “If we are going to have to do it, we should do it now. Our goal will be to pick up the Middle School and relocate it in a way to make it easy as possible for everyone.”
With support of this recommendation the committee looked at the effects that closing the building would have on students, parents teachers and the community and evaluated the different scenarios it would take to keep the Milford School District running without MMS in use. After several hypothetical situations were discussed among committee members, the group decided to accept a proposal that would redirect students that would attend the Middle School to different schools in the District. In this proposal grades 1 through 5 would be hosted across the three Elementary Schools, Benjamin Banneker, Lulu Ross and Mispillion; grades 6 through 8 would attend the Milford Academy; and grades 9 through 12 would attend the Milford High School.
“The overall decision to keep grades 1 through 5 together, 6 through 8 together and 9 through 12 together was based on the fact that it would have the least impact on the schools, students and parents,” commented Dr. Kohel.
If this proposal is accepted by the Milford Board of Education in January the next decision that will have to be made is what to do with the existing building located on Lakeview Avenue. In addition to the historical significance of the building, the cost of demolition will also be a factor in choosing which direction to move forward. According to Dr. Kohel, the estimated cost of demolition would be at least $1 million. The School District is currently in talks with the City of Milford and Milford Parks and Recreation in an attempt to establish a partnership where the building could be used in some capacity.
“We would like to continue to preserve parts of the building that we still use,” commented Dr. Kohel. “If the proposal is accepted, our board will analyze all of the possible partners and make a decision on what to do with the building.”
The proposal from the committee to the Milford School Board of Education on Monday, January 28 will be to close the Milford Middle School at the end of the 2012-2013 school year and redistribute students to existing school in the district, with grades 1 through 5 attending all three Elementary Schools, grades 6 through 8 attending the Milford Academy and grades 9 through 12 attending the Milford High School. The Board’s decision on this matter will affect the community as a whole for not only the upcoming school year but for several years to come.