by Terry Rogers
Although Milford School District is actually halfway through the school year, staff and administration continue to adjust and make changes as the new year begins. Superintendent Kevin Dickerson explained that the district continues to focus on students first along with the best way to support their needs as they enter the new year.
“We continuously review and update our curriculum and programs to ensure we best meet the needs of our students,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We look forward to expanding educational opportunities for our students. From a curriculum perspective, we have been engaged in a review process for our English Language Arts curriculum. We are optimistic for enhancements within our English/Language Arts Curriculum and resource materials for the 2019-2020 school year. Milford School District has been a long time member of the State of Delaware Science Coalition to assist with the curriculum, professional learning and resources essential to providing science instruction to our students.” Dr. Dickerson explained that Milford Central Academy teachers and students will continue utilizing new resources which include numerous enhancements to the use of technology in the science classrooms. Students will be learning with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in mind. This supports a focus on big picture concepts and teaching students to engage with science rather than a focus on memorization.
Milford School District has integrated Allied Health courses into middle level programming at Milford Central Academy. This allows students to link to the Allied Health as well as the Public and Community Health programs in preparation for entering those programs at the high school level. Milford High School students will also see revised Career and Technical Education opportunities in Engineering through the Project “Lead the Way” Program, Animal Science and Management, Plant Sciences and Digital Communication Technology.”
“A big focus in our elementary schools is to continue infusing technology into our classrooms,” Dr. Dickerson said. “Even as we have expanded technology access, we look to acquire additional Chromebook carts with the goal eventually being that every elementary classroom is equipped with a Chromebook cart. We are hopefully to provide educational opportunities, during the summer and school year to support school readiness as well.”
In 2019, students will be able to participate in lacrosse at the Milford Central Academy in the spring and the district is adding Business Professionals of America as well as Technology Student Association at the school as well. Milford High School added Unified DIAA athletic teams, including basketball and soccer in the spring with flag football planned for the fall. Unified Basketball is a partnership with Special Olympics and the team is a combination of regular and special education athletes who compete side-by-side against other teams around the state. Milford High School has also added a girl’s lacrosse team that will begin competing this spring.
After the decision to keep the former Milford Middle School campus for educational use, the Technical Assistance Subgroup is working to gather information requested by the Milford Middle School Steering Committee. The information will be presented to the committee and the community on February 26 at 6 PM in the Milford Central Academy cafeteria.
“While unknown at this time what type of educational facility will be recommended, the district is committed to working with the steering committee and community to determine a solution that is beneficial for the district and the community as a whole,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We are grateful for the participation of our committee and community during this process.”
School funding remains an issue in Delaware and, as the General Assembly convenes for the new year, there is continued discussion surrounding funding for schools in the state, according to Dr. Dickerson.
“There is ongoing conversations around the ACLU lawsuit and how that will impact public school funding, as well as how to best serve students while meeting various funding constraints,” Dr. Dickerson said. “The Milford School District remains committed to our core budget priorities providing direct support to teachers and students in classrooms, providing technology and security upgrades for all students and staff, providing competitive local salary structures and ensuring tax rate stability for our community. The state allocated additional funds this fiscal year for priority areas such as safety and security, grades K-3, minor capital project maintenance and student success initiatives. Additionally, we have recently received notice that the state intends to expand opportunity funding by implementing a weighted funding formula for English Learners and students of low-socioeconomic status. These funds will be utilized to provide additional resources and services, including reading and early interventions, to students who are identified to assist them with meeting educational goals.”
School safety is another priority at Milford School District as administration considers the safety of students, staff and visitors to be extremely important. The district has hired two school safety monitors who are retired State Police officers which allows them to have police presence in all schools. The district also works closely with Milford Police Department who provide them with safety and security guidance.
“The district was fortunate to receive an allocation of funds from the State to support school safety and security initiatives and upgrades,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We have invested in security camera enhancements and increased security camera coverage in all of our schools and on all of our campuses throughout the district. In addition, we have been able to make some upgrade with our bus cameras to help with bus safety. The district provides ongoing professional development to encourage our staff and administrators to be prepared for emergency situations and has updated all hand-held radio devices to ensure communication during an emergency event is available and reliable. All schools streamline public access through main entrances and have deployed additional exterior and perimeter monitoring. We have continued to make efforts to enhance entrance and exit security protocols, including enhanced locking mechanisms and open door notification systems.”
In addition to these safety measures, Dr. Dickerson explained that the district continues to reduce instances of bullying and promotes a safe and positive learning environment. The district has a code of conduct that addresses bullying and other offensive behaviors.
“We take allegations of bullying very seriously and work to resolve all allegations of bullying,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We provide many ways to report these behaviors, including through an online reporting form. We continuously seek ways to add programs to ensure we are fostering a culture of diversity and acceptance in all of our schools. In addition to our excellent school counseling staff, we also partner with many agencies in our community to provide mental health services on-site at our schools to assist those who may be effected by bullying or other areas of need. Our schools promote a message of inclusion and acceptance through various assemblies and classroom lessons. Also, we are looking into anonymous tip programs to allow students to report suspicious behaviors and behaviors which may be harmful to students and staff.”
Dr. Dickerson said that the district looks forward to a great start to 2019 and much student success, commenting that the district is very thankful for their students, families and the community they serve.