By Terry Rogers
On Monday, April 22, 2013, the Milford Board of Education voted to begin the steps necessary to demolish the building that currently houses Milford Middle School and to build a new school on the same site. A “Certificate of Need” must be submitted to the Delaware Department of Education by July 1, 2013 in order for the district to be considered for school construction funds next year, and the board voted to submit that certificate as the first step in demolition and construction of a new school.
“It is our hope that we can preserve a major portion of the front of the current middle school, such as the entrance way and perhaps some of the bricks, and incorporate them into the new building,” said Dr. Phyllis Kohel, Superintendent. “We really want to have our new school mirror the look of the old school, at least in the front, then have a whole new plan for the inside.”
Dr. Kohel said that the district looked into simply adding another wing on the Central Academy and another on Milford High School to help with the overcrowding in those schools due to the closure of Milford Middle School, and the cost for those additions was between $15 and $16 million for both. However, the board felt that it was important to plan for future growth in the district.
“That will not alleviate overcrowding in the future,” Dr. Kohel explained. “We certainly do not want to continue to ask our community to pass referendums, so the better solution is to replace the middle school. Using the state formula for a middle school, we should be somewhere around $40 to $45 million, but a construction referendum will also include operations, so an exact price is not known right now.” Dr. Kohel did state that the state will fund 73 percent of the construction and demolition of the school, with the district required to pay the remaining 27 percent.
“Before we make final decisions, we will appoint a committee to review all the options,” said Milford School Board President Pat Emory. “We know we will need a referendum to tear down the old school and build a new one, and that we must have a lot of discussions with community members and leaders before we go forward. We want input from everyone before we make any decisions.”