Monday, February 8, 2010

Jonathan Foran High School

Perhaps the High School name is a bit odd but it is the only play on words I can think of when it comes to the very idea of merging the two schools into one.

Milford's budget continues to be hampered by the economy, its associated deflation in tandem with long term unemployment, and of course taxes, taxes and ever increasing property taxes.

Well last week after looking at the city's proposed budget and reading the repair and improvement costs on Milford's schools I had to pinch myself. The nightmare of $100,000,000.00 in repairs just seemed like I was trapped in a taxpayer nightmare, a nightmare where everyone gets 3%-5% raises while massive teacher layoffs loom on the horizon yet again. Only problem was... well I am not dreaming and yes I was very awake and if you are not, then you need to wake up for this one.

Today I made several hasty phone calls, sent lots of e-mails, spoke to countless experts and concluded that our two High Schools will have to eventually merge into one. The benefits of doing so are immense. The risk of not doing so and applying expensive "band aids" certainly not a smart option.

The green movement in town has been pushing for more ecofriendly projects, and with the "skyrocketing" cost of school repairs a "green Leeds" certified "world class" high school is starting to make sense. A Leeds certified High School would be the first of its kind in CT and would save the city a great deal of energy costs.

The best way not to throw away good tax dollars on crumbling buildings, is to challenge the logic of spending the equivalent of a new school, on two old energy inefficient buildings that need endless and costly repairs.

The epiphany is coming, and when it does our leaders will hopefully realize it is more cost effective to build a brand new H.S.from scratch. Milford's schools I believe have entered into this reality, but has yet to embrace enough conservative proponents.

The main challenge (at the moment) is to locate a suitable building site. Thankfully I did some research and found a good candidate. The building site that I propose involves the recently purchased 7.6 acres on Burnt Plains Road. The property abuts other sizable lots, also owned by the city and is right near the Milford YMCA of which offers a great Indoor swimming pool, and a soccer field. It would also be in the company of Platt Tech and far away from the fast food chains that tempt our kids into poor nutrition.

This would certainly be the best answer for a new school that would house apx 3,000 kids in a centrally located part of our city. Since Milford already owns the lots land costs would be minimal to none. Some costs to the taxpayers, could be recouped by leasing out the old High Schools, relocating crowded middle schools, or converting them into senior living centers.

The, consolidation would be costly at first but over time would save Milford's taxpayers millions of dollars, while in tandem increasing our local property values. Fewer resources and personnel will be dedicated to the maintenance, and daily management of a well designed facility.

With strong momentum, favorable support, and a serious effort Jonathan Foran High School could be a reality within four or Five years if we start taking education costs seriously now.

(Photo of Comcast Center A Leeds Certified Building)

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