The Milford School District pretty much went it alone in trying to get the word out before a proposed school referendum was rejected by voters on March 26, 2014.
That won't happen this time around.

The Milford School District pretty much went it alone in trying to get the word out before a proposed school referendum was rejected by voters on March 26, 2014.
That won’t happen this time around.
A group that calls itself “Buccaneer Tomorrow” was formed last fall to make sure the school district would have adequate support for another proposed school tax referendum, which is scheduled to take place on May 5.
“Buccaneer Tomorrow” is comprised of approximately 20 parents from the Milford School District who want to see their children thrive when it comes to education.
They say they have a long-term plan, which starts with building a new $69 million, 1,400-student high school, to help ease concerns about overcrowding and the future of education in Milford.
Members of “Buccaneer Tomorrow” shared the podium with Milford School District officials as they presented their case for the upcoming May referendum in front of Milford City Council on Feb. 23.
“We wanted to form a relationship that can be proactive with the school board to take on issues that come up in a positive manner,” said Yvette Dennehy, who has two children in the Milford School District. “One of the things that we wanted to tackle first was the referendum. Basically we have a new vision for education in Milford and we’ve been working very hard on that vision in cohesion with the school district and we’ve come up with something called ‘Buccaneer Tomorrow.’”
Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe said he was impressed with the group’s presentation. He was especially encouraged by their long-term vision.
Shupe even said he thought that last year’s failed referendum might have actually been “a blessing in disguise.”
The centerpiece of the failed referendum last year was a new middle school.
This time around, the referendum includes a proposed new high school to be built on 192 acres at Simpson Crossing, across U.S. Route 113 from Redner’s Supermarket.
“When you look at a long-term vision of what the city of Milford and what the school district needs to provide for a quality education,” Shupe said, “it needs a long-term vision to meet the overcrowding of the schools, but to also meet the requirements of a quality educational system.”
Members of “Buccaneer Tomorrow” said they do not want to take the chance that another school referendum will fail.
They acknowledge that the referendum is going to cost taxpayers money. But they also believe that the future of the town’s children is well worth it.
Preliminary studies have shown that a house valued at $150,000 would have their taxes go up not more than $19 a month or $228 a year in the third year – the highest level of taxes in the plan.
Phyllis Kohel, the superintendent of the Milford School District, said the schools are just getting by on a bare-bones budget right now. There are no luxuries.
“When people make the allegation that we’re not spending wisely, I think they need to take into consideration what we’ve had to absorb in the past five years – $3.4 million [in state cuts],” Kohel said. “We’re still offering the programs that we can offer. I think that we do fairly well with the budget that we have. So please, don’t ever think that we don’t do the best with what we have, because we absolutely do.”
The Milford School District currently has 502 more children than state standards say that they should have, spread out among all of the district’s schools.
With new schools being built in the Capital, Caesar Rodney, Cape Henlopen, Lake Forest and Smyrna school districts, members of “Buccaneer Tomorrow” say Milford needs to keep pace or get left behind.
“We want our children to benefit from better programs and better technologies in the classroom like the surrounding districts are doing,” Dennehy said. “We also need help recruiting and retaining these great teachers that we have and we want to make sure that Milford School District is poised to welcome incoming professional families who may decide to move to this area.”
Dennehy pointed to the fact that Bayhealth is building a new heath care campus in Milford that is scheduled to open in 2018.
“One of the things that happens when families decide to move to an area is that they look at the school district,” she said. “If we want to ensure that these new professional families are going to settle in this area, which would then increase our tax base and improve our economy, then we need to ensure that our school district is the best that it can be. If we don’t have what they want, they will be moving elsewhere, and that would be a shame.”
Dennehy went on to stress that the members of “Buccaneer Tomorrow” are not just cheerleaders for the district.
“Our group ‘Buccaneer Tomorrow’ is not just about passing a referendum,” Dennehy said. “It’s about a relationship that encompasses the school district, the city council, the business owners, and the citizens of Milford and this community as a whole.
“We want to make sure that we’re holding the school district to fiscal responsibility and offering our advice in an engaged environment that parents and citizens can participate in instead of just sitting back and pointing fingers.
“And we want to make sure that we are developing a long-range vision for education and the education facilities that should take us through the next 20 to 25 years.”