Milroy schools poised for change in 2018


By Per Peterson

Public discussion will continue next month on the future layout of Milroy Public Schools, and that discussion will ultimately lead to the dissolution of its charter school.

Milroy Area Charter School ISD 4138 currently operates a kindergarten through fourth grade school, and Milroy Public School ISD 635 operates a 3- and 4-year-old preschool as well as grades 5-8. But a bleak financial long-range picture the school has been monitoring for years has forced the schools’ hand to the point of seriously exploring the dissolution of the charter school and merger with Milroy Public Schools starting with the 2018-2019 school year.

“In the long-term picture, the economics project very nicely to be able to sustain a public school in Milroy for many years to come,” Milroy Public Schools Superintendent Wade McKittrick said. “If you want a silver lining in things, that’s where it’s at. It’s just that the structure has to change a little bit in order to make that happen.”

The school system has been working proactively — since 2014 — in dealing with a funding shortfall that is, in essence, shutting out the charter side of the education system in Milroy. That discussion included altering some of the school’s charter school district agreements — things like sharing expenses and utilities, and staff. It was 2014, McKittrick said, when the school began seeing a negative dip in the charter system.

“The charter school’s got to be viable, so we made some decisions as joint boards to tear up some agreements, modify some agreements, that would lessen the expense burden,” he said.  “Last year it became more evident that the writing’s on the wall and we need to do something.”

The charter school in Milroy was formed in 2005 on the back of a $360,000 federal grant, and its emergence provided financial relief for a financially struggling school district. But over time, the financial base has weakened.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.