by Terry Rogers
On Monday, November 16, Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent of Milford School District announced that the Department of Education approved a request for a Certificate of Necessity that would allow Milford School District to remodel the former Milford Middle School Building on Lakeview Avenue. A request for a similar certificate was not approved in 2019, requiring the district to reapply this year.
“I am very excited to share that we were successful in getting the Certificate of Necessity,” Sara Croce, Chief Financial Officer, said. “This was given to us for the 2022 school year with anticipated funding to begin in 2023. We are requesting an extension on the Certificate due to today’s climate and the district feeling they need to focus on other things at the present time.”
Croce stated that the project would cost more than $57 million and that the district share to remodel the school would be almost $14.9 million. One of the reasons the district is requesting an extension is that state law provides one year to hold develop a bond bill and go out for referendum.
“We have to think about our community in these trying times,” Dr. Dickerson said. “Right now, we feel we need to have our focus on the learning in the classroom along with the health and safety of our students and staff. We are hoping to get to the point that we bring even more students into the classroom over the next few months and are looking forward to when we will have all students back in the classroom. Right now, however, we need to focus on learning. We need to get our schools open and we need to be very delicate in how we approach this. We want to be wise in the way we proceed with it.”
Throughout 2019, a committee comprised of community members and district staff, led by Bill Strickland, met to obtain public input into what the district should do with the old Milford Middle School building which was closed several years ago. The oldest portion of the building was built in 1929 and engineers reported that the older section could still be renovated while newer sections needed to be torn down and replaced. Tetratch, the engineering firm, provided renderings of what a renovated building may look like.
At the public hearings, those who spoke overwhelmingly supported keeping the building for education use with many pointing to the historical significance of the building. Originally built as Milford High School, it was the school where the Milford Eleven, the first African-American students enrolled in 1954. Their enrollment placed Milford in the national spotlight when a man from Baltimore brought in protestors to fight the integration. It was also in this building where the Milford Seven, the first African-American students to graduate enrolled in 1962.
Croce stated that more information would be provided to the Board in January.