School Referendum Does Not Pass

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Photo of the previous Milford Middle School, Taken Carolyn Cohee.
Photo of the previous Milford Middle School, Taken Carolyn Cohee.

** The unofficial votes from today’s Milford School District referendum are in. The construction referendum did not pass, 1014 voting against, 839 voting for. The operational referendum also did not pass, 1078 voting against, 766 voting for.

To find out what Milford School District plans to do moving forward be sure to read this week’s Milford Review. Each week, we publish the Review on Tuesday morning, so if you subscribe today, you’ll be on the list for Tuesday’s edition! You can learn more and sign up for your free email subscription at https://milfordlive.com/milford-review/.**

 

On Wednesday, March 26 residents of Milford will go to the polls to vote on two referendums set forth by the Milford School District. The first vote will be on whether to move forward on the demolition of the previous Milford Middle School (MMS) and the construction of a new middle school on the same site. At the same time as the construction referendum, on a separate ballot, the Milford School District will ask the public to vote on an operational referendum which will include continuance and maintenance of ongoing academic programs, increased energy costs associated with the operations of all district facilities and technology.

In 2011, the Delaware Department of Education made it clear to school officials that due to the age and condition of the Milford Middle School, any major construction would not be funded by the State of Delaware. As the agency stated that the facility had aged out of its functional use, Milford Superintendent Phyllis Kohel began a community discussion in 2012 about what the future would hold for the Milford Middle School building.

A committee of community leaders was created and 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 presentations pointed out several areas where the exterior and interior of the school were deteriorating with age as well as problems with the electrical and heating systems in the building.

In January of 2013 a decision was made by the Milford School Board of Education to close the Milford Middle School at the end of the 2012-1013 school year. The decision included that 6th through 8th grade students enroll at the Milford Central Academy and 9th through12th grade students enroll at the Milford High School the following year.

The Milford School District has been approved by the State of Delaware Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for $44,614,900 for the process that will include the cost of demolishing the old MMS and the building of a new 1,200 student middle school. The State of Delaware’s share of a construction project will be approximately 71%, as 29%, or $12,938,300, must come from local resources.

On Wednesday March 26 residents of the Milford School District will vote on two items on the referendum ballot, the first for the authorization to issue bonds in the amount of $12,938,300 for major capital improvements. The bonds are to be financed through an increase in property taxes and will represent 29% of the total cost. Question one will ask residents to vote for or against a construction referendum that seeks “Funding for engineering, planning, constructing, and equipping of a new 1,200 pupil Middle School on the same site as the old Milford Middle School building. This project includes the demolition of the existing Milford Middle School building, land preparation, abatement and mitigation of extraordinary site conditions associated with the construction of the new 1,200 pupil Middle School.”

Question two will ask residents to vote for or against an operational referendum that seeks funding for “Continuance and maintenance of ongoing academic and vocational programs district wide, increased energy costs associated with the operations of all district facilities and technology upgrades to provide additional computers for student use.” If approved the second phase of the referendum will increase the Current Expense Tax rate an additional $0.9116 cents in Sussex County and an additional $0.3226 cents in Kent County per $100 of assessed property valuation to provide the necessary $2.1 million funding.

On Wednesday, March 26 polls will be open to vote for or against the referendum from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Polling sites include Banneker Elementary, Ross Elementary, and Morris Early Childhood Center.  Benjamin Banneker is located at 449 North Street in Milford, Ross Elementary is located at 310 Lovers Ln in Milford, and Morris Early Childhood is located at 8609 3rd St in Lincoln. Individuals that have questions about the referendum can contact the Milford School District at (302) 422-1600 or email Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Kohel at pkohel@msd.k12.de.us or Director of Finance Mrs. Tammy Korosec at tkorosec@msd.k12.de.us.