Long Range Committee member not happy about plan to close middle school

After hearing proposals that the Board of Education put forth regarding long range plans for the city’s schools, one member of the original Long Range Planning Committee said she is sorry she ever served on the committee.

Sandy Boehm spoke Monday night, when members of the Milford Board of Education were expected to vote on closing Harborside Middle School and talk about the possibility of closing an elementary school.

“I feel like my voice and everything we did didn’t matter,” Boehm said. “We never mentioned Harborside being closed.”

A number of parents who spoke at Monday’s meeting said they were surprised at talk of closing Harborside because that idea was not mentioned earlier in the long range planning process.

“I’m embarrassed to say I was on the committee because it was a waste of my time,” Boehm said.

The Long Range Planning Committee consisted of parents, school officials and other community members. The group studied school statistics and various configurations for Milford’s schools in future years before presenting their findings and recommendations to the Milford Board of Education in March. The school board studied the recommendations, and was expected to vote on a long range plan this week.

On Monday night Milford Board of Education member John DeRosa suggested that he has continued to back closing an elementary school as part of the long range plan because the Long Range Planning Committee recommended that one or two elementary schools be closed in light of projected enrollment decline. DeRosa said he thought it was important to carry out at least part of the Long Range Planning Committee’s suggestions.

Board Chairman Susan Glennon took exception to suggestions that the board did not take the Long Range Planning Committee’s recommendations into account.

She pointed out that the board voted to return to a K-5 structure in the elementary schools, which was one of the key recommendations that came out of the Long Range Planning Committee.

Responding to accusations that the board was putting cost factors over the quality of education in suggesting that Harborside close, Glennon said, “Student learning remains our priority.”

She also said that the steepest decline in enrollment will be seen at the middle school level.

The Board of Education will meet again Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. As of now, the meeting will take place in the school board meeting room in the Parsons Complex.

The board is expected to vote on whether to close Harborside Middle School and may discuss closing an elementary school at the Nov. 10 meeting.