Milford MA High hosts candidates forum ahead of April 5 election
MILFORD — Voting-age Milford High School students expressed concern about the poor condition of their building Wednesday during a candidates’ forum in the school’s Thomas I. Davoren auditorium.
Three of the school board’s four candidates vying for two open seats attended the forum, as did board chair Mike Walsh, who is running uncontested for re-election on April 5.
Principal Josh Otlin served as moderator.
“We see the highest turnout when we have presidential elections in the country and the lowest turnout when we have local elections,” Otlin said, “and that’s kind of counterintuitive because that’s are local elections when your vote matters the most.”
The forum took place two days after the Select Board and Superintendent of Schools Kevin McIntyre submitted a letter of interest to fund a renovation or reconstruction with funding from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
Walsh talked about the flaws in the building.
“I came here this afternoon, and I had to go around a puddle, and for me that’s unacceptable,” he said. “We have made improvements. We now have a facility manager working on things every day to keep the schools where they need to be.
School committee candidates RJ Sheedy (incumbent), Robyn Bratica and Derrick Sobers answered questions about issues that affected them and the high school students. School infrastructure and performance were the main concerns.
John Erickson, an incumbent seeking re-election, was unable to attend.
Bratica, who graduated from Milford High School in 2002, said she had a doctorate. in psychology from the University of Rhode Island and worked for five years at Milford Public Schools as a psychologist and adjustment counselor.
She said her goal was to increase the school’s graduation rate and reduce its dropout rate by making it more welcoming and inclusive.
“We need to create a community where this is a school where people want to be and a place where students feel safe and valued,” Bratica said. “We also need to increase paid opportunities; I know some students have dropped out because once they turn 16 they are expected to help the family economically…we need to create paid opportunities for students can stay in school and earn money so they can graduate. ”
Sheedy expressed his pride in having served on the committee over the past year.
A 2014 Milford High graduate, he has served on the board for seven months, negotiating most teachers’ contracts and helping secure funding for a new high school construction project.
He stressed the importance of maintaining the school’s infrastructure and highlighted the need for renovations in the arts department.
“I’m just here as a member of the community to listen and help however I can,” Sheedy said. “My parents used to come here for student-teacher nights and they would walk around saying, ‘Wow, this place looks exactly like what I used to do when I come here.’
“One of my main goals is to try to improve the facilities and I want our buildings to look as good as possible.”
Sobers spoke along the same lines, adding that he supported the idea of renovating the school.
He said he owned Haven Beauty in Hopkinton and also worked as a senior support specialist for a Rhode Island company.
Sobers graduated from Blackstone-Millville High School, where he was on the basketball and baseball teams, and played tenor saxophone in the jazz band. These experiences will help work for students from different backgrounds.
“I love this city, but I don’t think the committee leadership is very diverse, and I believe I can help from my perspective, my experience,” Sobers said.
Student Brian Rmsis, 18, lamented the decline of the building, pointing to leaking roofs, damaged property and litter. He believes this has an effect on students’ academic performance.
He favored Bratica in the upcoming elections, citing his approach to improving the school environment while aiming for better academic performance.
“Our school is now 50-something years old and I’m very proud of it,” Rmsis said. “But that being said, I think our school is very unsightly right now. We have inspirational quotes along the hallways that are covered in brown stain water, and while it won’t drastically impact our graduation rates, it’s important to me that the school be the best it can be. academically and individually.
Another student, Mack Enright, also pointed out the building’s shortcomings. He favors Sheedy and Sobers, seeing how the candidates focused on school infrastructure.
Enright complained that there was “garbage everywhere”.
“The bathrooms are always a mess, there are buckets everywhere, broken windows and doors, and there are exposed cables in the ceilings, there are never enough paper towels in the bathroom. bath,” he said.
The two candidates elected on April 5 will serve on the seven-member school board, which writes and maintains policies, approves and monitors the budget, and hires and evaluates the district superintendent.
Council meets at 7:00 p.m. every other Thursday at the Milford High School Teacher Resource Center.
Toni Caushi is a multimedia journalist at the Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @tcaushi.