School solution may not make everyone happy

To the Editor:

Here’s a summary of what the residents of Milford asked for at the Long Range Planning Committee’s public forum Tuesday night.

We want better schools with state of the art facilities. We don’t want to close any schools. We want to return to K-5 in 2014. We want to return to K-5 in 2015. We want K-8 neighborhood schools, but make them all equal with the best resources. We don’t want a mega high school. We want a magnet school. We don’t want to spend money on a new school but we want the best resources and technology like other towns with new schools have.

Good luck to the committee because whatever you do, someone will be unhappy.

In the interest of full disclosure, my husband is one of the parents on the committee. When he was invited to join the committee, he asked me, should I join? I said sure, it’s a chance to have some input in whatever they do next time. He said, “I don’t want anyone to be mad at me.” I said, “Yes, but it’s a chance to help get things done right.”

I’ve seen how Milford has managed school redistricting before. The decision in 2005 to send a handful of Meadowside students to West Shore to alleviate over-crowding at Harborside and the plan to send Mathewson kindergarteners to Pumpkin Delight were both quick fix, Band-aid solutions. In 2009 we had the K-2,3-5 plan which closed Simon Lake. In each of these cases, only a few short-term statistics were provided and no studies were done on the effects these changes would have. There were a couple of public meetings after everything had been decided. Power point presentations were put on the board website for a few weeks and then removed. These were all one-off solutions. There was no plan, no grand scheme and no consideration of how this would affect the school system in the future. It was always a matter of what do we need to do today? These were all reactionary moves, not proactive.

Now the long range planning committee has been meeting since June. All meetings are open to the public. All the presentations are available on the Board of Ed website. I encourage anyone who’s interested to read the presentations, study the data and make suggestions based on the data. If you have questions, ask a committee member. This is all being done out in the open, for a change. There is no backroom plan on this one; if there is it’s being hidden from the committee members. However, that being said, people will still be unhappy because they may not get what they’ve asked for, unless the committee can somehow find a way to keep all the schools open (even if they’re half empty), improve all the facilities, offer better programs and resources and spend less money while doing so.

To the committee and the board, you’re doing the right thing and being responsible by planning ahead, don’t be deterred from that.

Jennifer Federico