Reader outlines school closing concerns

To the Editor:

Published on the Milford Board of Education website is the ‘BOE Policy Governance” — which includes the code of conduct. Part of which states that board members shall do their “utmost to represent the public interest in education by adhering to the following commitments:

8.1 “The Board shall make decisions based upon the best interests of students.”

8.2 “The Board shall represent all school district constituents honestly and equally and refuse to surrender their responsibilities to special interest or partisan political groups.”

Also included in the Policy Governance is the mission of the BOE: Article 1.4 "The Board of Education believes that it’s fundamental mission is the academic achievement of its students and therefore student learning shall remain its highest priority.”

Recently, the chairperson of the board was quoted as saying that the board of education needs to “be mindful of the families in Milford who do not have children in school” when speaking about the possibility of closing schools. Another member was quoted in an article saying “Republicans will be voting against that proposal” to close Harborside school. In a letter to the editor,  a third board member wrote, “In my opinion, if you support the Republicans you are supporting the closing of an elementary school.”

Do any of these comments follow the code of conduct? How does partisan politics by the BOE put the educational interest of the students first?

As a parent and a tax payer, I am not sure that adding additional classrooms to West Shore Middle School and closing Harborside is the right decision, but I am also not sure it is the wrong decision. I believe more time needs to be taken to look at all the pieces of the puzzle first. There are too many pieces still missing.

What educational programs are going to be put in place at the middle school and high school levels? Are we planning space for the educational programs we want, to make “Milford a progressive school district?” Or are we planning only for declining enrollment, then figuring out what educational programs will fit in the space we are left with?

As far as building facilities: Are there schematic design plans that show how additional classrooms can be added onto West Shore Middle School? Is there a recent detailed estimate of construction costs that include the classroom addition? How can the city take full advantage of state reimbursement? What is the cost of closing Harborside school? What is the cost of the required maintenance to Harborside - which the taxpayers will bear the cost regardless of the BOE or the city occupying the building.

Members of the BOE, maybe it's time to review your governance policy and make your decisions based on what is in the best interests of the students, not the best interest of your political party.

Susan Krushinsky