It wasn’t billed as “a mega high school” but that’s how Milford parents and residents received it.
another, they took to the lectern at the front of the auditorium at Jonathan
Law High School and protested the proposed district reconfiguration.
“If we go to one
mega high school, we’re going to lose so much,” said Krista Foster Heard, vice
president of the Live Oaks Elementary School PTA.
students in one school is not the answer,” said Dolores Hannon.
About 300 people
came out Tuesday night to hear what the
Long Range Planning Committee – a
diverse 31-member group formed last summer to address a sharp decline in
student enrollment – had produced in terms of possible district
Michael Zuba of
external consultant Milone & MacBroom led the PowerPoint. He laid out three
options: keeping things status quo; building a new high school; or retrofitting Foran High School to hold all the city’s future high schoolers.
The two latter
alternatives revert to the previous K-5 arrangement (while adding pre-K), which
the committee and public speakers Tuesday generally agreed was necessary to
restore parental involvement.
But that’s just
about as far as the congeniality went.
Concerns over sports, special needs
“I will leave if
you go to one mega high school,” said Heard, who worried kids would become lost
to “other activities” as competition for sports
would seemingly become more aggressive under a one high school district.
president of the Live Oaks Elementary School PTA, said a large school is
potentially problematic for special needs students, who may feel uncomfortable
around “so many kids.”
A new high school
or a retrofitted Foran would house 1,700 to 1,900 students. Currently, there
are 910 students at Foran and 968 at Law.
high schools are located on opposite sides of the city and one speaker said
that’s reason enough to keep the current arrangement intact.
“We have this
wonderful system,” said Tim Chaucer, who is the director of the Milford Marine
Institute and a member of the Milford Preservation Trust.
New high school alternative
It would take 10
years to construct a new high school at a cost of about $240 million. Under
this arrangement, Foran and Law would transition to middle schools, each
holding about 650 to 750 students.
Under this plan,
an elementary school consolidation (pre-K-5) would keep open: East Shore,
Harborside, West Shore, Mathewson, Orange Ave and Orchard Hills. The proposal
closes Live Oaks, JFK, Calf Pen, Meadowside and Pumpkin Delight.
$17.8 million would be needed for gyms and minor renovations at Mathewson,
Orange Ave and Orchard Hills.
331,000-square-foot new high school would require 50 to 55 acres of land, which
could be tough to come by in Milford.
“Land is a true,
finite resource in Milford,” Zuba, the consultant, said at an earlier committee
The cost to
retrofit Foran to accommodate an additional 800 to 1,000 students as the sole
high school in the district is about $56 million.
With this option,
Law and East Shore would take on the middle schoolers and the elementary school
consolidation (again, pre-K-5) would keep open all the schools in the new high
school alternative, plus Meadowside.
$23.8 million would be needed for gyms and minor renovations at Mathewson,
Meadowside, Orange Ave and Orchard Hills.
Status quo ‘taxing on the system in the
enrollment is down 1,200 students compared to nearly a decade ago and the
district is expected to lose another 12 percent over the next five years.
decline is a national trend that relates to falling birth rates, especially in
affluent areas, he said after the forum.
But the options
presented Tuesday represent more than a review of projected enrollment. The
committee also took “an exhaustive look” at operational costs and required upgrades at school facilities, Zuba said.
And what they
found was that keeping things status quo would prove “taxing on the system in
the long-term,” he said.
proposed changes wouldn’t take effect until the 2015-16 school year. The committee
is expected to formally present its recommendations to the full Milford Board
of Education in March.