By Brett Milam
The Milford Exempted Village School Board of Education met on April 15 to discuss the replacement of the junior high school building.
Paul Fallon, of Fallon Research & Communications, a public opinion research and polling company, presented his findings from a community poll conducted in late February.
John Spieser, Superintendent, said the survey was “intended to determine community perceptions and attitudes on local issues relating to our district”.
Specifically, however, the inquiry assessed public interest in a proposed plan to replace Milford Junior High School with a new middle school in grades six to eight.
Spieser also presented the building replacement proposal.
The offer from the Ohio Facilities Building Commission is that it will fund 1,141 seventh and eighth graders. That translates to $ 275 per square foot or $ 44 million. The local share would be 73 percent or $ 32 million and the state share 27 percent or $ 12 million.
The board is expected to vote on the OFCC’s conditional approval notice at its May 13 meeting.
Then the OFCC will meet on July 22 to approve Milford, although Spieser stressed that this is not guaranteed.
Finally, the deadline for posting a bail measure for the November 2 election would be August 4. The reason this deadline is being reviewed is that if the OFCC approves Milford at its July 22 meeting, then Milford has 13 months to adopt a new bond issue.
A further failure would place the district in a “obsolete district” category.
In May 2019, voters with a margin of 56.9% to 43.1% rejected a bond of 4.7 million which, among other things, would have created a new college. Shortly after this failure, the council formed a community advisory team to receive a recommendation on next steps.
While OFCC funding only covers the seventh and eighth grades, the district is also looking to integrate the sixth grade. To cover approximately 500 more students and approximately 190,000 square feet. But by adding classroom space, the district is actually envisioning around 200,000 to 225,000 square feet, especially with the next 50 years in mind.
Whatever area in square meters ends up exceeding OFCC’s co-financing by the state, we are talking about a locally funded initiative. The District is therefore responsible for 100 percent of this cost.
If everything was approved, construction and demolition would not take place until August 2023 to August 2025.
Adding the OFCC money, the bond on the ballot would be between $ 50 and $ 55 million, and the cost per $ 100,000 to an owner would depend on whether it was a bond. from 30 to 37 years old.
According to the District, it is “time” for a new building because the Junior High building is 59 years old. Additionally, a new building would resolve overcrowding in elemental buildings.
“To prepare Milford students for college and for careers in the 21st century economy, we need educational spaces adaptable to modern science and technology laboratories. It starts in college, ”the district said.
Fallon said the poll was conducted among 300 randomly selected voters registered in the school district. Additionally, Fallon said there are strong supporters of replacing the building and using bond finance to do it, and strong opponents of such a move. Parents, non-parents, other races, unaffiliated political voters were surveyed and voters with the highest propensity to vote.
The first question was about the general feeling whether the District was moving in the right direction or not. Overall results indicated that 55% of those surveyed believed the district was moving in the right direction, with 24% believing it to be on the “wrong track”.
The next question was whether the property taxes in the area where the respondents lived were too high, generally fair enough, or too low. The results were more mixed, with 48% of all respondents saying property taxes were “too high” and 46% saying “fair enough”. Among the “fierce opponents” of a bond issue, the number was higher, at 65%, believing that property taxes were too high.
Another weak point was that staunch opponents had “considerable apprehension” about the work the district is doing and doing in financial management. On this issue, only 15 percent of staunch opponents thought the district was doing excellent / well. Overall, the number was still only 37 percent.
The survey also indicated that there was no uniform consensus on the condition of the high school building, with some groups stating it was poor, others stating that it was adequate and of still others indicating that they were not familiar.
Nonetheless, when asked whether, “generally”, respondents were in favor or against the replacement of the building, overall 57% were in favor of the idea, and 30% were against it. Among parents, that number was even higher at 79 percent support.
This number is even higher when the question is asked again once respondents know the full scope of the replacement plan at 69% support, 23% oppose it. Again, among parents, that number jumped to 94 percent.
At the start of the board meeting, Dan Yeager, Director of Fine Arts, Extracurricular and Activities, spoke about Milford High School WinterGuard, which received a ‘master’ rating at the virtual event Winter Guard International 2021.
WGI Sport of the Arts is an organization of indoor color guard, percussion and wind competitions.
A “master” rating is the highest possible score, which places Milford’s WinterGuard among the best in the country in the Scholastic Open category.
“Their program is wonderful,” Yeager said.
Student artwork was also recognized, a tradition that began at the October 2018 school board meeting. The artwork will be on display at the board’s administrative offices, located at 1099 State Route 131.
This month, seven students from Milford Junior High School were recognized: Elena Ditchen, seventh grade; Grace Hammond, eighth grade; Annalize Hyott, eighth grade; Bria Lee, eighth grade; Van Lewis-Rogers, seventh year; Noah Phillips, seventh year; and Sawyer Rowekamp, seventh year.