School board agenda for Monday includes motions for closing Harborside and an elementary school

The Milford Board of Education is expected to talk about closing an elementary school and Harborside Middle School at its meeting Monday, Nov. 10, at Milford City Hall.

The meeting is a continuation of an Oct. 13 meeting, at which school board members made some decisions about long range school plans but postponed other decisions.

According to an agenda for Monday’s meeting, there will be discussion of a “motion of closing an elementary school, as requested by Mr. John DeRosa at the October 13, 2014 Board of Education meeting.”

There also will be discussion of a motion to “direct administration to move forward with the necessary steps to ensure the construction of additional classrooms at West Shore Middle School, as needed to allow the Milford Board of Education to revisit in three years the anticipated closing of Harborside Middle School once the West Shore Middle School renovation and expansion is complete.”

During the October meeting the board did vote on several matters, including a return of the schools to a K-5 configuration for the 2015-16 school year, to decentralize pre-kindergarten, which is now housed in only one school, and to redistrict at the elementary school level to balance the school populations.

Many parents at the meeting spoke passionately against closing Harborside Middle School and the matter has generated letters by parents and some school officials since that meeting.

A new group called MilfordEd Advocates, in a letter to the local papers, urged the school board to delay action on Harborside and the elementary schools.

“Given that projected enrollment figures do not allow for the closing of Harborside for another four to five years (even with the addition of classrooms at West Shore Middle School), it would be wise to table the vote on the addition of classrooms until 2016,” the letter states. “A long-range plan should be just that: A plan that addresses the future possible changes in our school system.”

The MilfordEd Advocates also said they believe all eight elementary schools should remain open for the foreseeable future to allow for increased programming at the elementary level and for lowering class size.

In another letter, board member Jennifer Federico said she supports keeping all elementary schools open because it allows opportunities for growth and expansion of programs and helps ensure there is enough space for existing programs.

She said she also supports consolidation to two middle schools, which requires the closing of Harborside.

“I understand closing a school will always be difficult and transitions are challenging for families,” Federico wrote. “However, with an expected decline in enrollment of over 500 middle school students from 2008 to 2019, I believe we have a great opportunity to invest our city’s resources in two middle schools rather than three.”