Busy Year Ahead For School Board

Current Milford School Board President Patrick Emory with School Board member Marvin Schelhouse.
Current Milford School Board President Patrick Emory with School Board member Marvin Schelhouse.

Over the past several years students, parents, teachers and administrators of the Milford School District have seen many changes including the requiring of student uniforms, altering school start times and the revising of the districtwide attendance policy. With the second semester of the 2012- 2103 school year just beginning, more debate on issues such as a proposal to close Milford Middle School, the creation of a new college enrollment program, strengthening heightened security measures and stabilizing financial solvency for the district will be on the agenda for the 2013 Milford School District Board of Education.

School Board President Patrick Emory is looking forward to the 2013 school year and is optimistic about the potential for growth in the Milford School District. Patrick Emory was reelected to the Milford School Board in 2011 and was appointed President of the Board on July 11 of that year by the members of the School Board. The Milford School Board is comprised of eight members elected through a District wide vote of the people. Board Members serve five-year terms on a staggered basis and reside in the district. Members annually elect their President and Vice President.

The first major debate in 2013 for the School Board will come this month as members of the Board discuss a proposal to close the Milford Middle School. The proposal, which was drafted by Superintendent Phyllis Kohel and a committee selected from community members, 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 fact is, if this building is closed it will save the District a half million dollars per year,” commented School Board President Pat Emory. “There will have to be some debate regarding exactly which schools students will attend once the school is closed. We will also be looking at uses for the gym and school itself in partnership with the City of Milford and Milford Parks and Recreation.”

In an effort to help eleven and twelfth graders better prepare for college, the Milford School District will also be looking at a new College Enrollment Program where students will be able to take college courses for college credits at the Milford High School. These classes, which will be offered to a larger portion of the student population than just students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, will be taught by Milford High School teachers and be tuition free.

“I think this will be a very positive program,” commented Mr. Emory. “It will give many kids access to begin their college career free of charge on the Milford High School campus.”

In the light of the recent tragedy that befell Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, the Milford Board of Education will also be discussing the need for heightened security at each of the six schools located in the district. Some of the options that will be up for debate include placing police officers at each school and hiring a private security firm to place guards at school entrances.

“I would like to see some form of security in all of the schools in the district,” commented Emory. “I would feel better to have a trained officer at the schools, there could be a chance to create a partnership with the Milford Police Department to answer our security needs.”

A top priority for the Milford School Board this year will once again be stabilizing financial solvency. Operating in an economic recession, the Board will also soon be faced with a shortfall of school funding expected by 2014, when federal funds from the Race to the Top program will end. Delaware was the first of two states to receive federal funding through the Race to the Top program to temporarily fund support programs through 2014. Those funds have been used in the Milford School District to support programs such as the Lead Academy , Accelerated Summer Program, Mapping of the Curriculum, After School Tutoring and a district-wide mentoring program. Milford School District will need to find a way to sustain the current programs and services that are offered to students and the community by using local money.

“We are in pretty good situation to handle this but there will be some tough decisions when those programs have to be funded,” commented Emory.

As with each year, 2013 will present unique challenged for students, parents, teachers and administrators in the Milford School District. Individuals looking for more information on the Milford School District, the Board of Education and the upcoming year are encouraged to visit http://www.milfordschooldistrict.org.