Milford School District Board of Education held a special public meeting to discuss the Daniel Hirsch Scholarship Fund Trust, population study and financial issues and concerns.
During the Milford School District’s special school board meeting Monday, Superintendent Phyllis Kohel informed board members and attendees that Wilmington Trust is proposing the termination of the Daniel Hirsch Scholarship Fund Trust.
The trust, which was created by funds left by the will of Daniel Hirsch in 1942, originally intended to offer a $100 scholarship to one male and one female Milford School District student.
While the scholarship amount has increased to $1,000 each over the years due to inflation, Wilmington Trust is proposing that the remaining $34,000 be split between the two most recent scholarship recipients, two female students who graduated from the Milford School District.
Board of Education Vice President Renate Wiley, a previous Daniel Hirsch Scholarship recipient, said she would not have been able to attend college without scholarships such as this and would like to see future students use the money.
“That’s still quite a bit of money, $34,000, in my [opinion],” she said.
Board members voiced concerns and rejected the idea of closing the account, hoping the $34,000 could benefit multiple students instead of having only two students receive $17,000 each.
Board of Education President Marvin Schelhouse suggested that Milford School District alumni from the class of 1942 through present graduates could possibly help keep the trust fund alive.
A motion was passed to keep the account open and board members will explore options to keep the fund alive, a matter that will ultimately be decided in the court system.
In conjunction with presenting a certificate of necessity to the State of Delaware in June concerning the building of a new Milford Middle School, the Milford School District contracted the University of Delaware to prepare a 10-year population study outlining current and forecasted district enrollment.
The population study was presented at the meeting in part by Kohel, who outlined key points of student enrollment decreases and projected growths. According to the study, on average the Milford School District attracted about 7.8 percent of Kent and Sussex counties’ combined public school enrollment in the last 10 years. The study also states that the district’s enrollment share fell from 7.83 percent in 2004 to 7.64 percent in 2013.
“There is reason to believe we will at least hold firm if not grow in students by the time August gets here,” Kohel said.
While initial numbers show a decrease in the district’s enrollment, projected numbers that take population growth and housing development into consideration “suggest a slow increase in the district’s enrollment…over the 2014 to 2023 period.”
“We’re not growing by leaps and bounds,” said Tammy Korosec, chief financial officer for the Milford School District.
“The city is continuing to build,” Kohel said. “We are going to run out of room if we don’t have that new middle school approved.”
The district does not expect to receive a decision from the state until Oct. 1, at the earliest, said district officials.