Milford School District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Dickerson announced this week that there would be a public meeting regarding the Milford Middle School Lakeview Avenue project on January 4, 2023, at 6:00 PM at Mispillion Elementary School. The meeting will be a way for the public to view a presentation of the Milford Middle School design and progress on the project.
“Right now, we are in the design process for the Milford Middle School site and we are looking forward to sharing our progress on this project,” Dr. Dickerson said.
Last month, the district released a timeline that outlined the steps necessary to complete the project. The project was approved by referendum in October 2021 which allowed the district to issue bond sales to cover the cost of the renovation of the building. The building was abandoned by the district in 2012 and a referendum to demolish the building failed in 2014, in large part due to the historical background of the building.
“We began meeting back in the fall of 2018 with the purpose of establishing what the community wanted to do with the current site,” Bill Strickland, who chaired the Milford Middle School Steering Committee, said. “The public has expressed interest in the school continuing to be used for education with renovations and additions. The committee’s goal was to recommend whether that was feasible.”
In an effort to make an informed decision, the district hired Tetra Tech, a consulting and engineering firm, which conducted a thorough inspection of the entire building. Previous inspections indicated that the building was not salvageable at all, but Tetra Tech was able to determine that the older, historic portion of the building could be saved, although it would require renovations. The newer wings which were added onto the 1929 building were not salvageable and would need to be demolished. However, they were able to develop a design that would add new wings that were more cohesive than the current wings while expanding the size of the school. The school would also need electrical, sewer, water and HVAC upgrades along with the installation of ADA compliant ramps, stairlifts or platforms.
“Delaware’s Department of Education generally recommends that if renovating an existing school will cost more than 50 percent of the cost of constructing a new school, the district should construct a new school,” Tim Sibicki of Tetra Tech explained. “This building has historic significance and they have made exceptions in other districts when this occurs.”
The district submitted a Certificate of Need for a school to house up to 1,000 fifth and sixth grades to the state in 2020, but it was denied. The certificate from the state was approved in 2021, allowing the district to move forward with the plan to renovate the historic section of the building and demolish the newer wings. This allowed the district to go out for referendum in October 2021. The measure passed with a vote of 67 percent for the project and 33 percent against.
The cost of the project is $57,270,453 with the state contributing $42,380,185 and the district responsible for the remaining $14,890,318. The bonds issued will be used to cover the district’s share of the project. Last month, the district issued a timeline which indicated that public meetings would be held starting in January 2023 with bidding planned by April 2023. The district hopes to begin demolition in August 2023 with construction starting in December 2023. They hope to have the project completed by January 2025.
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