Milford school board adds members

MILFORD – If the coronavirus wasn’t already complicating the school year for students and educators, the Milford school board has had its share of bumps in the road this past year.

With the resignations of school superintendent Dr. Jessica Huizenga, board member and former board chair Ron Carvell and most recent board chair Mike Hannon, board member Holleigh Tlapa, who is interim board chair, released a statement to the Cabinet announcing the addition of two board members who will serve through March 2021.

“The Milford School Board welcomes Mr. Steve Martin and Mr. Kevin St. Onge as interim Board members who will be with us until the next election in March of 2021,” Tlapa’s statement read, “when one 3-year board member will be elected, and one 1-year member will be elected.”

Whenever a school board vacancy occurs, the remaining members appoint a successor to service until the next school district elections, in accordance with RSA 197:26.

As the Milford school board will be rebuilding, Tlapa, and others, seem eager to put the past in the rearview mirror as they begin a new year, starting with the process of hiring a new school superintendent.

“We are focused on the future and will be creating a superintendent hiring committee to ensure progress forward,” Tlapa said. “We strive to learn from our mistakes and incorporate essential feedback from our constituents. We will choose a superintendent that fits a leadership profile designed by our committee, and that best matches the current needs of our district.”

The Dec. 21 school board meeting had been planned as an in-person meeting but had to rescheduled as a Zoom meeting due to an extensive coil break at the high school.

“Our initial committee meetings, where we create the leadership profile, will be held in public,” Tlapa’s statement continued. “Although we will not include a public comment section, we provide an avenue for input. Non-committee members are encouraged to ask questions, contribute their ideas, and provide feedback throughout the process.”

There seems to be optimism among some residents and taxpayers but there the subject snow days, such as the one on Dec. 17, seems to get mixed reactions from parents.

On Facebook, one parent expressed concern over giving kids a day off considering that most students haven’t been in a physical classroom for much of 2020.

“With most kids and teachers being remote, there should be no snow days,” Tanja K. Owen posted. “The education is already lacking since March.”

Another resident pointed out that while education was “lacking,” the mental health of students may have suffered.

“There is a huge lacking in socialization and mental well-being for these kids,” Stephanie Desrochers wrote. “I’m so proud of my daughter’s resilience during this but she is 13 and the lacking in normal living is more my concern. These kids will get caught up at some point. For every other important aspect lack, I think they’ve earned it.”

Owen stated that her kids have had more time to play since March then actually have been in school learning.

“A snow day for remote learning is not the precedent need to be showing,” Owen wrote. “Education is the key right now and kids are falling behind.”

Nicole Lenz Summers Walters said, “As a mental health counselor in schools, I would have to respectfully disagree. Free time? Stuck in their home with no friends to socialize with and parents sometimes working from home and they are home along to fend for themselves. They need fun right now.”

Tlapa and the board will undoubtedly be asked at some stage about the system of assigning school snow days but in the meanwhile, the board and its statement remain positive.

“Working together we will create a better tomorrow and the brightest possible future for every member of our school district and community, always focusing on what is in the best interest of our students,” Tlapa’s statement concluded.”