Milford Parents Slam ‘Mega High School’ Proposal

Public forum draws adamant opposition to proposed changes in the district.

Jeanette Walsh, co-president of the John. F. Kennedy School PTO, speaking in opposition to a proposed one high school configuration for Milford Public Schools at a public forum Tuesday, Jan. 28. Credit: Jason Bagley
Jeanette Walsh, co-president of the John. F. Kennedy School PTO, speaking in opposition to a proposed one high school configuration for Milford Public Schools at a public forum Tuesday, Jan. 28. Credit: Jason Bagley
It wasn’t billed as “a mega high school” but that’s how Milford parents and residents received it.

One after 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.

“Having 2,000 students in one school is not the answer,” said Dolores Hannon.

Big crowd

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 reconfigurations.

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 students

“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.

Staci Godek, 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.

Milford’s two 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.

An additional $17.8 million would be needed for gyms and minor renovations at Mathewson, Orange Ave and Orchard Hills.

The proposed 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 meeting.

Retrofitting Foran

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.

An additional $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 long-term’

Zuba said 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.

Enrollment 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.

Any 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.
Concerned Parent February 13, 2014 at 03:02 PM
@Tmc...I will take him up on his offer.
Tmc February 13, 2014 at 03:33 PM
@CP; regarding the post that superceded your above post (which u didn't need to delete) that's why it has to be you. Your passion is what is needed in this matter and you seem (along with Gary) to be very well informed, IMHO. I think your decision to meet in private with him will help all of us in this battle to give our kids the best learning environment we can, hopefully making us K-8 as I for one think it should be. I thank you for your willingness to accept his offer.
Concerned Parent February 13, 2014 at 04:01 PM
I deleted it because I commented too quickly against Mr. DeRosa...Which was my fault altogether. I didn't read his post closely enough and it was an unfair response in some points.
Tmc February 13, 2014 at 05:17 PM
I don't think you were out of line with what you said; I didn't take it that you were singling out DeRosa at all. More like the overall experience, and you appear to be justified. Hey, the roads are clear now; nothing like two guys meeting up for a drink of something warm and open discussion! :P
Concerned Parent February 13, 2014 at 05:33 PM
@Tmc...Normally I would take up that offer, but tried to keep ahead of the snow today...and after shoveling my driveway and sidewalk about 7 or 8 times, I'm a little wiped.
Gary Tobin February 13, 2014 at 06:01 PM
I think it's a great idea for me to meet with Mr. DeRosa. As we all know each district have two representatives and district 2, Ms. Glennon and Mrs. Casey, are the two members representing me. Crossing the distric lines drawn in the sand may result in a problem for Mr. DeRosa but I'll e-mail him and get his thoughts.
Concerned Parent February 13, 2014 at 07:44 PM
@Gary...I truly believe, in this case, those lines need to be crossed.
Concerned Parent February 13, 2014 at 08:40 PM
@Tmc...I tried to contact John DeRosa, but despite his promise and I quote "you are more than welcome to call me or send me an email to discuss any point or concern and I promise we can have a discussion based on facts", he replied to my email by saying "If you would like to have a discussion you can come to the BOE meetings and make comments." And people wonder why we are so critical of these board members.
Tmc February 13, 2014 at 09:42 PM
@CP; So he offered a one on one and then backed out? Ok then, at least we all now know he's is another lying sack of s**t politician with his own agenda. How are we supposed to make comments at BOE meetings when edicts are issued like "there will be no opportunity for public comment"? Milford is so damn corrupt, I'm shocked that the leaders don't have a cat sitting on their lap and their lemmings lined up to kiss their hand. Sheesh!
John DeRosa February 13, 2014 at 10:28 PM
@Concerned Parent.. I have no issue with you in regards to meeting I just need to understand that we can have an open formal dialogue without any commitments....Secondly.. please don't refer to me as a lying sack of s**t - which is what I am not.. My schedule allows me free time on Mondays other than the Board meetings, and Weds to Fri evening... so if you wish please reviews the times and date and come up with a couple of alternative and we will sit down as a sitting board member offering his opinion from a constituent from another District.. I look ford to speaking with you in person.. Also Mon eve is no good unless its before 630- I attend the Bd of Alderman meetings as a Liaison... Look forward to speaking g with you...Have a good evening....
Tmc February 13, 2014 at 10:36 PM
@DeRosa; you said " If you want ot meet on on one it would be a good thing. can we get together at a mutually accepted time? " Then when you were emailed about said one on one, CP said your reply was ""If you would like to have a discussion you can come to the BOE meetings and make comments." I'm not sure what dictionary you use, but when you say one thing and then do another, it is a lie, plain and simple. I call a spade a spade, so unless CP lied himself, don't act like said sack and you won't be referred to as one, got it? kthxbai
John DeRosa February 13, 2014 at 11:29 PM
@Tmc A bit testy and we haven't even talked.. If you can calm down a bit I am sure we can have a discussion.. Let me know when...
Concerned Parent February 14, 2014 at 09:01 AM
@Tmc...John DeRosa will only converse if you (or anyone for that matter) reside in his district, otherwise his response will mirror the one gave to me.
Concerned Parent February 14, 2014 at 09:18 AM
@John DeRosa...First off I did NOT refer to you as stated in your comment; "please don't refer to me as a lying sack of s**t - which is what I am not." I STRONGLY recommend you recant that comment as it will come back to bite you. Secondly, I'd be more than happy to have a dialogue and suggest you read through the reference material I provided to you and the other members of the MBOE, the LRPC leadership, Superintendent (s), Board of Alderman, REP Maroney, Sen Slossberg, Sen Murphy, Rep DeLauro, Milford REP Committe Chairman Paul Beckwith, Gov Malloy, and Tom Foley. I'm not playing a game here and am doing EVERYTHING in my power to ensure the MBOE will exercise EXTREME due diligence when making this decision. I'm going to ensure that our kids are not reduced to a per sq. foot expenditure. Keep in mind that PERCEPTION is 99.9% of the law in our country. Based on the ACTIONs of our district leadership in the past few years, the PERCEPTION in our town is school district leadership are self-serving and only make decisions in their own best interest and NOT the students of our town. You, and your fellow board members, were elected into office by voters who entrusted you to make the most EDUCATED decision when it comes to the educational welfare of our youth..Thus, the Milford Board of Education". I'm going to be a real thorn in your side thru this entire process and rest assured I'm not one to give up. Again, if you want to meet, I will come over and introduce myself and we can then have a discussion. Good Day.
John DeRosa February 14, 2014 at 10:14 AM
@CP I stand corrected.. You are correct in regards to the comment... I sent you an email as wo when I am available.. Please let me know at your convenience when we can do so.. I will look at the materials you have sent.. Have a good day also.. PS I Applaud your passion and tenacity in regards to the children.. The city needs more folks like you to speak up ....
Tmc February 14, 2014 at 05:24 PM
@CP; he offered to have a one on one, period. Now he's hiding behind the "district" excuse? He had ample opportunity to mention that after his first post, yet still maintained his offer of a one on one, with no restrictions. Now when it's time to make good on his offer, he interjects a big "if". Sorry, but that is as lame an excuse as there is. Typical politician; he's going to have to get much better at lying if he expects to further his career. It was far too easy to expose him for what he truly is.
Concerned Parent February 14, 2014 at 07:44 PM
@Tmc...No worries. He knows who I am now and I plan to engage him directly at the next BOE meeting. News at 11.....Thanks.
Tmc February 14, 2014 at 08:51 PM
@CP; make sure you wear hip-waders; I have a feeling the BS will be substantial.
Concerned Parent February 15, 2014 at 08:48 AM
@Tmc...Don't worry...I'll bring an exhaust fan with me just in case.
Tmc February 16, 2014 at 08:25 PM
Hey DeRosa, why did you delete this post? (@TMC and @Concerned Parent.. my only intention to participate in this discussion was to provide a meaningful response that was in the best interest of the children and the families that I represent - which is the First District. My offer to meet with Concerned Parent to listen to his concerns was to provide a means for him to voice his concerns or comments. It seems that my good intentions have turned me into now being a target. There have only been a few people that have responded to this blog thread and the majority of the comments have been nothing but critical and non supportive. As I have mentioned before I KNOW there are concerns and passions about decisions that have been made and a fear that trend will continue. Any decision I have made and will make will be based on the facts and a judgment for the children and their families. For those reasons I am choosing not to engage or participate in this thread. If you want to reach me you can go to the BOE site and get my email or call me at my number which is also listed on the site. I would hope any discourse on a go forward basis would be civil and professional. Thank you and have a good evening.. ) Can't stand being expected to stand by what you originally said, can you? No one has attacked you, so dry your eyes. I merely called you out for what you are based upon your actions, and only after I gave you the benefit of the doubt that you were serious about what you claimed and stuck up for you in this very thread when others were judgmental right from the start. Turns out they were right; you don't offer to do one thing and then backtrack and go against it, especially when it was your own idea. If you don't want to be held responsible for your actions, stay out of the public arena, ok? Good luck sleeping at night.
Gary Tobin February 17, 2014 at 08:22 AM
What is the difference between, -The Long Range Planning Committee and -The Long Range Planning Commission
Concerned Parent February 17, 2014 at 09:22 AM
@Tmc...The trick here is to try not to compete with any public official on these boards...I'm going to be at the BOE on the Feb. 24th and plan to speak with Mr. DeRosa directly before the meeting...You're welcome to join me....
Tmc February 17, 2014 at 10:20 AM
@CP; why would I waste my time? He's clearly shown his spots in print here and I have no reason to think he'll do otherwise in person. Good luck.
Gary Tobin February 17, 2014 at 12:10 PM
I ask the difference between the Committee & Commission because....... 5. What has been decided already? The Long Range Planning Commission has made no decisions except to reduce the number of transitions.
Gary Tobin February 17, 2014 at 12:47 PM
23. Why is the survey different for students versus parents? Why are you allowing non-parents to take the survey? The survey has logic built in that is triggered by certain answers to certain questions. If you answered that you are a parent, for example, you will be asked additional questions regarding choices that only a parent would make. We believe that different groups can offer different insight into their thoughts for the future of Milford Public Schools. ------------------------------------- Wanting to here "thoughts" from different groups. That is thoughtful consideration of the survey author, until This question....... ------------------------------------- 24. Why is the survey so vague? The survey was designed to be completed in less than five minutes. It was intended to get as many responses as possible. Detailed feedback is expected to come via participation in meetings, the public forum, written submissions such as email and letters, and direct conversations. ------------------------------------- I guess the different groups and different survey questions weren’t really to get their thoughts. I could guess it was really to get the strategic questions to as little as possible to steer the public to believe their thoughts and opinions, individually, are the minority...... Strategy, in the form of A Language Art. ------------------------------------ 26. Why have paper copies of the survey not been distributed? It is expected that most people will be able to access a computer during the time the survey is open. Again, comments and questions are welcome at meetings, the public forum, by writing, or by phone to their elected representatives. Why wasn't every resident in Milford, particularly the Tax Payers, made aware of this survey? ------------------------------------ Long Range Planning is a whole city matter THE SUGGESTION IS FOR YOU TO WRITE or CALL YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES apparently the school administration can’t help you. Here is the web site for your BOE Elected Officials. Write or call. http://www.milforded.org/page.cfm?p=2639
Michael Brown February 17, 2014 at 12:55 PM
Here is a more reasoned discussion of the Long Range Planning Committee proposal. http://www.milfordmirror.com/12522/school-solution-may-not-make-everyone-happy/ By the way. The Long Range Planning Committee meetings are *open to the public* and have been since last June. Plus, the Committee *has not published a report yet* and has not even finished meeting. So get a grip everyone.
Concerned Parent February 17, 2014 at 01:34 PM
@Michael Brown, I believe you need to extend some credit to those commenting on this topic. We are all aware of the LRPC meetings taking place since last year. We know that it is open to the public (w/out the opportunity for any public comment). And we know what the discussions items entailed. We know this already. What you do not know is the reason for our concern. If you listened and read all the documents posted by the LRPC, or should I say Milone and MacBrown, you would see that the contents of every document focuses solely on facilities. There has been no documentation publish surrounding the academic merit of any of the options presented. The fact of the matter is that people are concerned because the LRPC is being led by these consultants. Every piece of documentation provided to date does not reflect the impact to the students, only the impact to the facilities. I actually learned quite a bit during the last meeting, the consultants are very thorough. I learned about state reimbursements and the approach to model our schools to keep in step with the Magnet Schools. The consultants used skewed survey results to pitch this to the parents who are on the committee because let be brutally honest here, everyone else is part of the school board and city. Bottom line, and everyone knows it, is that a design has been defined and the school board is simply going through the steps needed to justify their decision. It's extremely calculating and immoral.
Gary Tobin February 17, 2014 at 10:08 PM
Concern Parent - Just in case you didn't see it on the other page - I am in absolute disbelief that Milford's Education Administrators (one being the former Mayor of Milford) would actually alter or change the purpose (charge) in which the Board of Education approved the Committee’s purpose (charge). The consultant group is contracted to gather data 5-10 years forward regarding the decline in enrollment in Milford Public Schools, evaluate the school buildings and present their findings to the committee and come up with recommendations. I have watch and listen to Mrs. Casey aggressively not approve the administration changing an agreement and I would think we will hear and see this again if this is the case. Do you really think the Administration would or could hire Milone and MacBrown to manipulate and deceive the Chairman of the BOE and two other BOE members, the two Milford Aldermen, 4 school principals, two teachers, Alberta Jagoe and 13 parents? Do you think they can pull that off? Maybe the BOE voted and changed the Administration’s purpose for the Long Range Plan Committee and for them to include a Magnet School in their recommendations. But I would think that would be boarding unethical if they did vote and not allow the public to be informed on this. I did read in the minutes, Nov. 19th, which are by Dr. Feser, where Mr. Cummings was asked by one of the consultants to talk about his experience with the Bridgeport Magnet school. “He said it is very impressive. It has an open campus, aesthetically pleasing, “student center feel”, Lap-tops, wireless, wind turbine, etc. (IT, Physical Science, total State of the Art). He talked about the “competition” for our students and asked how will we respond to it”. The end of his statement sounded like a challenge for the committee. That is a bit curious that Magnet schools where not in the data or minutes until the night of the public forum and now there are no more public forums for parents, community and students to ask questions about it. I’ve been attending and watching BOE meetings for a long time and when the Administration wants to pursue or look into something such as the Security Resources Officers it required a vote of the BOE to approve the administration to research such matters. So I would think such a large project or proposal as a New Magnet School the Milford BOE would have to approve the Administration to research such matter. Do you think maybe we all missed a meeting when the Administration proposed such request and the BOE voted yes?
Tim Chaucer February 22, 2014 at 10:02 AM
I fear that the magnet school option is to "buy off" certain critics of this totally unnecessary and costly $240 million dollar new high school. Four years ago the community, despite strong objections, was BULLIED into a K-2, 3-5, reconfiguration. Knowing they erred, the Administration is willing to correct that mistake , however, that error becomes the smokescreen to reconfigure again: ONE HIGH SCHOOL and close Calf Pen, Live Oaks, and Pumpkin Delight and perhaps Orchard Hills. The decision has been made. The real question: Who is behind it? Milford Progress? They are part of the local Chamber of Commerce They wanted to develop Fowler Field, remember? Someone or several members of the Administration are doing the bidding of the Chamber; it all has little to do with education. Shortage of land? Sell the public school lands. Fool the public with talk of declining enrollment and magnet schools. have the stren
Tim Chaucer February 22, 2014 at 10:24 AM
We can only hope and pray that our current Board members have the courage and wisdom to stand up to those doing the bidding of monetary interests which has very little to do with the education of our children in a ONCE RESPECTED PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM .


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »