Reader questions declining school enrollment

To the Editor:

What is the real cause of declining enrollment in the Milford school district?

That is the $1,000,000 question or should I say $240,000,000.

Does anyone have the answer? If they do, are they unwilling to share it?

Could it possibly be that problem revolves around district leadership, their history of poor decision making, or their emphasis on testing versus academics? Could it be due to the continued poor report card our town receives from the State of Connecticut for not meeting its Average Yearly Progress standard. Could it be a combination of all of the above?

I believe that it is a fair question to ask of those parents who’ve chosen to place their children in schools outside of Milford.

As our town already knows, the Milford Board of Education (BOE) established a Long Range Planning Committee last year whose primary charge, according to the BOE is to provide recommendations, by looking 5 to 10 years out, for the design of a school system that reflects the vision of the BOE.

The planning committee takes into consideration the budget, facilities, resources and educational programs in light of declining enrollment.

When reviewing all the information published to date on the Milford Board of Education website, it is clear that the focus of this long range planning surrounds facilities and not academics. The consultants hired by the school district are subject matter experts in the area of civil engineering, facility planning and design. Although they are very experienced in their respective area, they have no experience in the area of education.

At the Jan. 28 public forum, for the first time, residents of Milford saw the options presented by the Long Range Planning Committee for the future of our school system. These options were not received well by those in attendance. Parents, students, and residents voiced their concerns, but somewhere along the line have felt those concerns have fallen on the deaf ears of an unapproachable school district.

There is an unfortunate irony in the BOE vision statement; “Milford Public Schools will be a progressive school district in which students are prepared to achieve at their highest level, surrounded by an engaged community that is proud of its education system.”

Do you believe our Board of Education has made any strides to achieve their vision?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”

Edward Vanchot