by Terry Rogers
With the second half of the school year already underway, Milford School District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Dickerson says that, in 2020, parents and students should expect to see a continued focus on standards, engagement and rigor instructionally as the district continues to work their way through the academic year. Dr. Dickerson stated that with established routines and expectations in place, teachers and students will have the opportunity to focus on the important work of teaching and learning.
“We are pleased with the academic progress our students have demonstrated so far this year and look forward to continued growth,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We continue to work through the implementation of our new English Language Arts programs throughout the district. As we look toward the future, we will continue to evaluate our curricular needs and determine the best resources available to challenge in engage our students. We are currently in the process of evaluating our math programs for Grades k-8 and will be working with the state on the implementation of new elementary science units for the new school year.”
In addition, Milford High School has prioritized adding programs of study that include strong connections to the communities they serve including Greater Milford as well as Kent and Sussex Counties. Dr. Dickerson explained that Hospitality will be added as a new program in the 2020-2021 school year. They also have a strong commitment to continue to infuse the visual and performing arts throughout each student’s learning experience. Milford School District has expanded their after-school academic support programs throughout the district as well. Milford High School and Milford Central Academy offer “After the Bell” tutoring and continue to utilize their partnership with the 21st Century 4-H program to serve students in grades 6 through 12 on their secondary campus. A recently implemented AHOY program provides academic support for elementary students.
“Students will continue to be invited to participate in this after school enrichment opportunity throughout the winter and into the spring,” Dr. Dickerson said. “If you have questions regarding this opportunity, families are encouraged to contact their child’s school. We will also have expanded summer programming, in particular for our elementary students. This will include a readiness program for identified incoming Kindergarten students.”
Dr. Dickerson explained that the district has experienced the most growth in the middle level grades as well as pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten student populations. Ross Elementary has experienced a growth in the number of students enrolled. According to Dr. Dickerson, administration and staff have done a phenomenal job accommodating the growth in a variety of ways to best support the academic growth of students. The district is currently examining elementary boundary lines for the possibility of a few minor adjustments to balance elementary school student enrollment within the three elementary schools in consideration or the entire capacity for each school. As they enter the new year, Milford School District has the highest student enrollment in history with 4,343 students.
“The district intends to follow the recommendations of our community by resubmitting a request for a Certificate of Necessity for the Milford Middle School (Lakeview Avenue) project,” Dr. Dickerson said. “Throughout our work with the Milford Middle School Committee, the community clearly indicated the desire for a future school on the Lakeview Avenue site. The district plans to reconvene the Milford Middle School (Lakeview Property) Committee during the upcoming months to discuss the project. We anticipate making a request to the Milford Board of Education to approve resubmission of a Certificate of Necessity for a 1,000 student, grade 5-6 school as previously submitted last year. While we understand the capital project needs throughout the state, we remain optimistic that we will eventually gain support for this critical project.”
Dr. Dickerson also explained that Milford School District continues to make safety in our schools a top priority. In order to continue to offer the safest environment for student learning, the district has added support personnel, completed facility enhancements and regularly reviews procedures and routines. Over the past two years, Milford School District has been recognized as a top initiative by the State of Delaware and the district has been fortunate to receive funding to support safety enhancements. In addition, the state has also provided funds to the school to support mental health initiatives which Dr. Dickerson believes support a safe school environment.
“We are proud to have been recognized by the state for our emergency response routines and tabletop safety drills,” Dr. Dickerson said. “This year, we are working to pilot the RAVE app for emergency notification with hopes to have the app available to all of our staff by the end of the school year. WE also implemented the Stop It app at the secondary campus to facilitate student reports of bullying or safety concerns. We are in the midst of establishing a District Safety Committee comprised of staff, family and community agency representatives to continue evaluating our student safety protocols and facilities to ensure we continue having safe school environments for our students, staff, families and school-community. We look forward to the important dialogue that will take place during these committee meetings.”
For the 2020-21 school year, Milford School District is considering starting school prior to Labor Day since the holiday falls later in September than in past years. In addition, there will be additional lost days of school due to the 2020 election. The district will continue to provide students in Kindergarten as well as Grades 1, 6 and 9 a Transition Day, which is currently planned for Friday, August 28. Kindergarten through Grade 12 would then officially start school on Monday, August 31.
“I also want to remind everyone that the Milford School District’s Second Elympics event is planned for Saturday, February 8 from 10 AM until 3 PM at Lulu Ross Elementary School. The event is an academic competition for identified English Language Learners throughout Milford School District,” Dr. Dickerson said. “In addition, Milford High School’s Drama Club will perform their spring musical, Legally Blonde, on March 5, 6 and 7 in the Milford High School Auditorium. On March 7, the Milford Lions Club will hold their annual spaghetti dinner in the Milford High School Cafeteria between performances. Milford School District has partnered with DelCaps to host a Qualifying Odyssey of the Mind tournament on Saturday, March 14 on our secondary campus at Milford Central Academy and Milford High School. Students throughout the region will be competing for a spot at the state tournament. Milford School District has several teams of students who will compete.”
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