Accreditation report: Milford High School 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 work sites 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There is a summer project to replace out-of-date plumbing, but without the bond it “is only going to be partially completed now,” he said.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 expressed 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:

n A school culture that promotes equal opportunity and contributes to student success and a safe, respectful school environment that fosters responsibility and collaboration.

n A wide range of quality educational opportunities for all students in appropriate class-size settings.

n Partnerships with parents, businesses and higher education that support 21st-century learning and opportunities for students to have self-directed learning.

n Recent renovations and repairs that are ADA compliant, attractive and show a strong sense of school pride.

n More than adequate funding for ongoing professional development.

n Professional staff activity that engages parents and families as partners in each student’s education.

n 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@nashuatelegraph.com.