Aldermen OK borrowing for West Shore Middle School renovation

An addition at West Shore Middle School can move forward, following a Board of Aldermen vote Monday night to borrow $17.8 million for the project.

West Shore Middle School Principal Paul Cavanna, as well as several teachers, attended the aldermen’s meeting to urge them to approve bonding for the West Shore project.

Cavanna talked about some aspects of the addition/renovation project. He said the main entrance will be modernized; there will be a new gym and a new stage; new band and chorus rooms that connect to the stage, and the media center will be transformed into “a state of the art learning center.”

Teachers, including Media Specialist Lisa Vaccino, said the addition will provide parity among the three middle schools in Milford.

Vaccino said the renovated media center will have an open floor plan that will allow students to “collaborate and dream.”

Mary Edo said that in addition to teaching at the school she runs an after-school program there, and she believes the renovated building will be good for the regular school day and for programs and events that take place after school.

Teacher Maureen Raccio said, “I look forward to having the building represent us and what we are capable of.”

City officials anticipate state reimbursement for a portion of the West Shore renovation. Matthew Woods, chairman of the Milford Permanent School Facilities Building Committee, said state reimbursement is usually 50%.

He said the West Shore project should be done in 2018 and the school will be on par with East Shore and Harborside middle schools.

The aldermen also agreed to borrow about $6 million in addition to that to pay for roof replacements at John F. Kennedy, Live Oaks, Meadowside and Orange Avenue elementary schools.

Alderman Ray Vitali voted for the bonding, but he said he isn’t thrilled with the idea of putting new roofs on the elementary schools. Vitali argued that with declining enrollment, there’s a chance a school or schools could close in the future.

“I can’t see putting new roofs on schools that may close,” he said.

Mayor Ben Blake said he understood the sentiment. But since the Board of Education voted in recent years to keep all the schools open, he said the city has to maintain them.

“These are all at a critical juncture now,” Blake said, adding that the roofs are 30 years old and roofs generally have a 20-year life span.