The Milford School District is asking that residents consider a referendum Oct. 27 to revitalize the former Milford Middle School site on Lakeview Avenue. The district wishes to build a new school that will have the capacity to host more than 1,000 students.
As many district residents understand, our schools are already over capacity at every level and the rehabilitation of this new school will allow for additional space for educational opportunities in Milford, alleviating demand on our three elementary levels. Over the last 10 years, the U.S census has found that the city of Milford grew over 22%, with 26% of that population being children younger than 18. In addition to current overcrowding concerns, our community continues to grow, and these trends are projected to accelerate.
This project would also continue our positive gains in economic development with an investment in public education. Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus recently invested in its residency program to attract primary care physicians to our local health care workforce. Just down the street from the potential middle school location, the Milford Wellness Village has created 200-plus jobs in the past 18 months. These professionals are looking to live and invest in a community that supports its local school system and understands the value it provides to residents at large. This project will also include new recreational facilities for the public, meeting spaces and continuing-education classrooms for adults.
Over the last five years, the Milford School District has lowered its tax rate, and the bond schedule for the proposed referendum takes a fiscally responsible approach, as years two and three are the only times residents will see tax increases. With the expiration of a current bond obligation in 2023, the overall taxes will decrease every year from year four to year 20, the end of the new obligation.
For many in the Milford School District, this property also holds a historic significance in our hearts. It was home to the “Milford 11,” who attempted the first desegregation of schools in Delaware, and to the students eight years later who successfully integrated Milford schools. The courage of these children and their families will have the ability to live on and educate future generations on the local, impactful history of the civil rights movement.
For these reasons, I believe that our collective investment as residents of the Milford School District can make a positive impact on the future of our community, our families and our children. As a local small-business owner and homeowner, I will be placing our family’s investment into revitalizing the Milford Middle School site, and I ask that you give it serious consideration. Please do your research, ask questions and do not hesitate to call the district to find out what this will mean for your family.
As a local state representative, I invite all opinions and will listen to all concerns, regardless of whether they are consistent with mine. I want to know your ideas, your worries and what you want the future of our community to look like.
Rep. Bryan Shupe, a Republican, represents the 36th District in the Delaware House of Representatives.