As students returned to school on Tuesday, January 3, Superintendent Dr. Kevin Dickerson looked forward to a new year, even though legislative actions could bring changes to the district over the next few years. Even though there could be changes on the horizon in terms of school consolidation or funding equalization, Dr. Dickerson said that Milford School District is committed to expanding opportunities for children.
“We remain committed to expanding opportunities for students and ensuring they have the best education and supports possible so that they are prepared for current and future success,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We hope to build on recent Smarter Balanced success, in which our elementary and middle school students demonstrated growth in both math and reading. This included our grades three through eight students showing the second largest growth in math proficiency in the state. While we are excited that we have shown considerable improvement with student graduation and dropout rates, we want to continue strengthen our students’ post-secondary preparedness.” Dr. Dickerson said that the most recent graduation rate was less than a percentage point from the top K-12 district’s rate in the state and the most recent dropout rate was one of the lowest in the state.
Milford School District’s secondary schools are working collaboratively together to align curriculum and instruction to ensure students are prepared for their high school and postsecondary educational experiences, according to Dr. Dickerson. In addition, Milford Central Academy and Milford High School are focusing on increasing rigor within its curriculum. They are also expanding educational opportunities and supports for students as they go into the new year.
Next year, Milford High School will offer three new majors, including Public and Community Health, Agricultural Structures and Engineering as well as Advanced Engineering. All three majors emphasize hands-on experiences and prepare students for post-secondary education as well as for positions in the workforce. Milford High School also plans to expand dual enrollment and Advanced Placement opportunities for students. In an effort to better prepare students for college and careers, Milford High School is also offering more assistance with the SAT through an after-school SAT course offered to 11th graders. All 11th graders will also be signed up for the KHAN Academy SAT Prep Course. This course is customized based on a students’ fall PSAT score. Dr. Dickerson said that College Board has found that students who receive SAT assistance through the KHAN Academy demonstrate a significant increase in SAT performance.
“Our elementary schools will continue with their implementation of handwriting throughout next school year,” Dr. Bridget Amory, Director of Student Learning, said. “Our teachers have embraced the handwriting resources we have provided, and our students are working to develop their skills and enhance their fine motor skills essential for handwriting. We will also be working to continue our support for our youngest learners in their development and understanding of number sense by supporting Number Talks as an extension of our math curriculum. Number Talks has been supported through professional development funds provided by the Delaware Department of Education Professional Learning Grants.”
Dr. Amory said that the district elementary Talent Enrichment and Acceleration (TEAM) program will continue to provide learning extensions for students and that the district is excited to begin their third cohort of Spanish Immersion students at Morris Early Childhood Center. As the first cohort transitions into second grade, the second cohort transitions into first grade in the 2018-19 school year. This is also the district’s third year partnering with Abbott’s Mill to help support field experiences as part of the Next Generation Science Standards for all elementary students.
The former Middle School building remains vacant and Dr. Dickerson said that there have been no commitments at the present time regarding the building’s future use. “We have prioritized our attention on energies for the schools where we house our students,” Dr. Dickerson said. “Our foremost priority has been “Students First” in our decision-making with an intense focus on student learning and student supports within our schools. We have intentionally tried to not detract from where our efforts are most needed. With that being said, we do plan to have a committee examine possible uses of the building and grounds in the near future. We would really like to know if the building has any potential educational use for the future. In the meantime, we are cognizant of the great recreational value the grounds hold for the community.”
At the state level, changes could occur within the district as well. Although the Discrimination Regulation 225 was tabled at state level, Dr. Dickerson said that if a regulation should pass in the future, Milford would review the final language and develop a policy that is in the best interests of the district and community. He said that the district was cognizant of the need to treat all students fairly and with respect as well as protect their safety and well-being while they were attending school.
House Concurrent Resolution 39 created a School District Consolidation Task Force which is exploring various models related to consolidating school districts in an effort to reduce costs at the state level. There is also talk at the state level of changing the way schools are funded by the state in order to make it more equitable across the board. “At this time, we are not certain of the impact that the Task Force’s work will have on the Milford School District or if there may be changes to funding,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We look forward to the final report from the Task Force in the spring and will work collaboratively with the state through any processes relative to the outcomes of the Task Force.”
Dr. Dickerson states that the district had an excellent start to the school year and looks forward to serving students, family and the community in 2018. “While we strive for continuous improvement to best educate our students, we could not have had a better first part of the 2017-18 school year in our schools,” Dr. Dickerson said. “For this, we are extremely grateful for the amazing students, staff, families and community who made this happen.
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