by Terry Rogers
Earlier this year, Milford School District submitted a Certificate of Necessity request to the State of Delaware after a committee of district staff, members of the community and former educators recommended the old Milford Middle School be renovated to house fifth and sixth graders. The Milford Middle School building has been closed since 2013. Last week, the district learned that the request was not approved by the State of Delaware.
“Although we were told that we submitted a strong proposal, the Department of Education felt that there were more immediate needs in other districts,” Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent of Milford School District, said. “The state can only support so many projects with the amount of funds allocated for capital projects. We will continue to work through this process to address the student growth and space needs in our district.”
Over the past year, the Milford Middle School (Lakeview Property) Committee, led by Bill Strickland, held several public hearings to get public input for the building. The oldest section of the building was built in 1929. During presentations, engineers reported that the oldest section of the building could be renovated while the newer wings which had been added over time were not salvageable and should be demolished. TetraTech, an engineering firm, provided the committee with a rendering of how the building could look with newer, more cohesive wings added to create a new school on the property.
At the public hearings, community responses overwhelmingly supported using the building as a school, with many pointing to the historic value of the property. The school was originally built as a high school and it was at this school that the Milford Eleven, the first African-American students to attend the district, enrolled in 1954. Their enrollment placed Milford in the national spotlight as a gentleman from Baltimore brought in protestors to fight the integration of the schools. It was also in this building where the Milford Seven, the first African-Americans to graduate in the district, enrolled in 1962.
“The next step is to continue discussions with the board and the committee to ensure our thoughts align with resubmitting our current proposal next year,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We also want to make sure we stay true with the community’s wishes for the property as well. We are grateful for the community involvement we had in developing our project proposal.”
Dr. Dickerson explained that he felt the district had made positive strides throughout the process regarding the Lakeview Avenue property. He was encouraged by the community support and the work of the committee to try to move forward with the renovation.
“We are also going to look closer at our student growth estimates,” Sara Croce, Chief Financial Officer, said. “We have exceeded this school year’s estimates from our growth study and want to make sure our proposal accurately represents how Milford is expected to grow in the future.”
According to the Department of Education, another application must be submitted to the state by August 31, 2020.
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