On Monday, July 24, Milford City Council approved a request from Kids First Academy to relocate to a former warehouse in the Milford Industrial Complex. The academy, which is a school designed for children who excel in a smaller classroom settings, currently has an enrollment of 35 students.
“Currently, this building is zoned as Highway Commercial,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “It is presently a warehouse and is approved for use as a warehouse with an office. Kids First Academy plans to convert the interior of the building into a private school that will serve Pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade. The request is before Council because City Code states that public, private or professional schools are conditional uses within the business park district. The proposal was approved by the Planning Commission on July 18, 2017 with a few stipulations, one of which was that the applicant construct a fence behind the building where they intend to install outdoor playground equipment in the future.”
Kids First Academy is a non-profit Christian School whose mission is to provide small group instruction that meets the individual needs of the students. The school opened in 2009 as a part-time tutoring service and it grew into a home school.
“There is a greater need in the area for schools like this,” Sue Frketic, Principal, said. “This is geared toward kids who don’t do well in public schools. There is a need out there. I started this in my home but we quickly outgrew that. We moved to the Lincoln Community Center and quickly outgrew that. We have been holding classes at the Boys and Girls Club, but knew that was a temporary solution. We have been looking for a permanent location for several years and this building in the industrial park is perfect for us.”
Billy Baker, a parent whose daughter attends Kids First Academy, spoke in favor of the school’s request. “With our daughter, public school was too much for her,” Mr. Baker said. “We moved her to a private school and that also did not work out. This school provided her a quality education at her maturity level and in an atmosphere where she could learn. It has been a very positive approach for her and for all the other students enrolled.”
Ms. Frketic said that the school had seen a steady enrollment and the new building would provide students and teachers with permanent classrooms that will reflect the students’ gifts and unique learning needs. For the first time, students and teachers will enjoy their own classrooms. Ms. Frketic said that they also hope that the new building will allow them to expand enrollment and serve more students in the area.
Oscar Galloza, whose son attends the school, said that his son looks forward to going to school each day and that he is reading and doing other school work on a much higher level than students at other schools. Mr. Galloza says that the personal attention and hands-on teaching approach is better for his son’s education experience.
“My children both struggled when attending other schools, but at KFA they get more personal attention and teachers who truly love them,” Joanne Macaffee said. “The teachers do whatever it takes to work as a team with students and parents to insure their success. KFA is an answer to a prayer.”
At the City Council meeting, Councilman Chris Mergner expressed some concerns about safety for children playing on equipment behind the school. A construction company operates on one side of the building and stores heavy equipment in a building on the other side. Mr. Mergner expressed concern that the Planning Commission gave the school one year to construct the fence, feeling that the fence may need to be installed sooner.
“We plan to do the interior renovations first,” Ms. Frketic said. “That is our main priority. The play area is planned in the future. For now, we have a working relationship with the Boys and Girls Club to use their building for physical activity requirements.” In addition, changes had to be made to bring the school into compliance with parking requirements under City code and the design for the new building accommodates that requirement.
City Council approved the request with a vote of 7-0, including the recommendations from the Planning Commission.
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