Milford School District gets OK to extend referendum timeline

District's referendum would seek funding for a new middle school.

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MILFORD — Epilogue language in this year’s budget means that the Milford School District will have two years to pass a referendum seeking support for a new middle school.

The property, located on Lakeside Avenue, would hopefully be used for a thousand-student middle school for fifth and sixth grades. The new middle school would address population growth in the district.

Each year, districts submit certificates of necessity to the state, which basically ask the state if districts can seek a referendum and ultimately the community’s approval to fund capital projects through tax hikes. Typically, they have one year — and two chances — to do so.

With the strain caused by COVID-19, the district sought an extension on that timeline.

“We really also have to think about what’s fair for our community. When is that time that’s most appropriate for our community, especially in the times that we’re in right now?” Superintendent Dr. Kevin Dickerson said at a December meeting, when the extension was first discussed.

During Monday’s school board meeting, Sara Croce, chief financial officer for the district, said that the epilogue language had been approved. Officials will now have until the fall of fiscal year 2023 to have a successful referendum to fund the construction.

The project is Milford Middle School, closed indefinitely about six years ago due to maintenance and health concerns.

The total cost to build would be just shy of $57 million. The local portion would be about $14 million.

The Milford Middle School Steering Committee, formed in 2018, has sought to determine what the community has in mind for the vacant building. At a meeting in 2019, the public expressed interest in the school remaining as such with the help of renovations and additions.

In September, the school board voted to submit the CN again, after it was denied by the state the year previous (a familiar story for other districts in the state).