High school’s report card is in

Accreditation agency: Building needs work

MILFORD – Milford High School has received a generally good report from the regional school accreditation agency, although it noted areas of concern, including a school building that is failing in several areas.

The 66-page report from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges reflects the findings of the school’s self-study and those of a NEASC visiting commit­tee.

"The ceiling leaks and sheds paint chips onto the floor, which lacks trac­tion and poses a safety concern," the report says. "Pipes are old and leak frequently, resulting in the disruption of pro­grams and potential mold damage and … infrastruc­ture concerns limit ac­cessibility, confidentiality and safety and interferes with education."

According to the report, the gym and locker rooms need renovations, and the gym cannot adequately seat the entire student body. Spectators are often turned away from events because of seating restric­tions.

Moreover, the report says a lack of parking lim­its the community’s abil­ity to attend school func­tions and limits students’ ability to attend intern­ships and other worksites outside the school build­ing.

A $5 million warrant article for districtwide school repairs that failed in March would have pro­vided about $850,000 for maintenance and repairs to the high school and its Applied Technology Cen­ter.

School Board Chair­man Paul Dargie said the bond would have paid for some of the improve­ments, but not parking or the gymnasium.

There is a summer proj­ect to replace out-of-date plumbing, but without the bond it "is only going to be partially completed now," he said.

Much of the facility was built in the 1960s, with the Applied Technology Cen­ter added in the 1990s.

The report also praises the work of custodians, but says staffing may be insufficient to support the building’s operations and maintenance.

As a result, mainte­nance staff members must spend more time doing re­pairs, the report says.

The report says the school lacks dependable funding for curriculum revision and technology support, with the primary concern access to the in­ternet through the wire­less network.

"A consistent theme associated with technol­ogy exists at Milford High School, as demonstrated by the fact that only 48 percent of staff believe that the community and district provide adequate funding for a wide range of technology support," it says.

Staff members also express concerns that hardware is difficult to procure and that not all classrooms have current technologies such as in­teractive whiteboards and projectors.

The report concludes that the school provides many programs and most of them receive depend­able funding, "but some faculty hold the percep­tion that requests to fund additional clubs or activi­ties are not likely to re­ceive financial support."

On the positive side, the report says the school excels in a number of ar­eas:

  • A school culture that promotes equal oppor­tunity and contributes to student success and a safe, respectful school environment that fosters responsibility and col­laboration.
  • A wide range of qual­ity educational opportu­nities for all students in appropriate class-size settings.
  • Partnerships with parents, businesses and higher education that support 21st-century learning and opportuni­ties for students to have self-directed learning.
  • Recent renovations and repairs that are ADA compliant, attractive and show a strong sense of school pride.
  • More than adequate funding for ongoing pro­fessional development.
  • Professional staff ac­tivity that engages par­ents and families as part­ners in each student’s education.
  • High-quality custo­dial and maintenance services that respond to needs quickly and pro­vide an attractive and clean facility.

According to the NEASC, the school’s con­tinued accreditation is based on satisfactory progress implementing the recommendations.

Dargie said the report is being reviewed by a committee that will list what’s expected to be done and what time frame would be acceptable. The administration will re­view the recommenda­tions when they are re­ceived, and then present the findings to the board in August or September.

The complete report is available on the School District’s website.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.