On Monday, July 13, Yvette Walls Dennehy became the newest member of the Milford School District Board of Education, replacing Mark Schanne who chose not to run for re-election in 2015. Ms. Dennehy took the oath of office and was officially seated by then President, Marvin Schelhouse. After Ms. Dennehy was sworn in, the board elected Renate Wiley as President and Barry Fry and Vice-President.
Immediately after Ms. Dennehy was sworn in, Ms. Wiley called the first meeting of the new school board to order. The first item on the agenda was approval of meeting dates for the upcoming year. Ms. Dennehy spoke up before the vote to express concerns.
“I think we need to reconsider the dates of our meeting,” Ms. Dennehy said. “We have said we want to be a stronger partner with the City of Milford and after discussing this issue with the Mayor, I think we should hold our meetings on different dates than City Council meetings.” Ms. Dennehy pointed out that Mayor Bryan Shupe wanted to attend the meeting, but could not as City Council was meeting at the same time. Barry Fry suggested that the board do some research and table the discussion about meeting dates for the upcoming year. Later in the meeting, they set the next board meeting for August 24, 2015 at which time they will discuss meeting dates.
The board also voted on a resolution that will be sent to legislators regarding a request from the Department of Education that districts reduce the number of tests they give to students. The resolution indicates that high-stakes standardized tests have a negative effect ono students and asked that the legislature overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as “No Child Left Behind,” to reduce testing mandates rather than require districts to reduce the assessments they give to children. The resolution will be placed on the district website for the public to review and will be sent to state legislators.
Dr. Phyllis Kohel, Superintendent of Milford School District, reported that Representative Harvey Kenton had requested $230,000 for two modular double classrooms, one to place at the Milford Central Academy and one at Lulu Ross Elementary School. The state agreed to pay 70 percent of the cost of the modular classrooms and Mike Jackson in the state budget office agreed to work with the district regarding their 30 percent share, a cost of $69,000.
“By putting the modular at Ross, we eliminate the need to split up the first grade and move some of them to Morris,” Dr. Kohel said. “The mods will help, but there is no denying the district needs a new building. This is simply a bandaid to get us through the next year.”
The board discussed a possible $100 fee that would be charged to non-profit agencies, including the Boy and Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milford, Delaware Red Sox American Legion Baseball and others who use athletic fields. Currently, those organizations do not pay any fees to use the baseball, softball or practice fields.
“The paint we used to use for lining the fields was expensive at about $50 per case,” explained Dr. Glen Stevenson, Director of Buildings and Grounds. “Now, we have a machine and they use five-gallon buckets, but it is still expensive. This should not affect the turf fields as they are permanently lined, but it can be time consuming and expensive to go out and line the other fields. We are also finding that we have to drag the fields and are responsible for emptying trash after events which takes time away from the other duties maintenance guys have to perform.” Ms. Dennehy asked whether they could simply call it a “lining fee” rather than a maintenance fee, but board member, Eugene Rust, said that his concern was that people would simply tell the district not to line the fields and may use inferior substances to do it themselves. The board voted to table the decision until Dr. Stevenson could get cost estimates for how much the district actually expended for the events.
Under personnel matters, the board voted to change the title of two administrative positions. The Director of Student Support and Parent/Community Services, a position currently held by Dr. Sylvia Henderson, will now be known as the Director of Elementary Schools Pre-K through 5. The Director of Teaching and Learning, a position previously held by Travis Moorman, whose contract was not renewed at the end of the 2014-15 school year, will now be known as the Director of Secondary Schools 6-12.
“We made this change because the Director of Teaching and Learning was responsible for curriculum for grades K-12 and this was very difficult to manage,” Dr. Kohel explained. “The curriculum responsibilities were split into two positions until 2010 when we made changes that placed all curriculum under one administrator. This will make it much easier on both administrators.” The Director of Secondary Schools 6-12 was awarded to Mr. Moorman under a one year contract until June 30, 2016.