It’s time for action on Milton’s elementaries

April 22, 2013

For the past decade, Cape Henlopen school board has discussed Milton’s two elementary schools, famously less than a mile apart. While both schools serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade, H.O. Brittingham has long served far more children from low socioeconomic back­grounds, and as board Vice President Spen­cer Brittingham once said, “You cannot be a learned person and look at this issue and not see race come into it.”

It was five years ago that Brittingham made that comment; since then superintendents have come and gone, and a new high school has opened. The two elementary schools con­tinue to operate, side by side, serving largely different populations. HOB once ranked sig­nificantly lower on statewide tests, but in the past few years HOB’s rankings have matched Milton’s, even though HOB continues to serve far more students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who typically do not do as well on state tests.

The staffs and families at HOB and Milton elementaries have worked hard to establish schools with personality, and each school has its own identity. These are good things that demonstrate the Cape Region’s commitment to providing the best public education any­where.

Still, it seems obvious this commitment must start with the elementary schools and with resolving the long-standing divide be­tween Milton and HOB. That is possible only through public discussion, which the school board is calling for, although no date has yet been set.

Beyond Milton, if the board decides to build a fifth elementary school, that will open a new debate over where those students will attend middle school.

Now is the time for thoughtful discussion about what schools of the future look like and where they should be built.

These are difficult issues that will demand the best from everyone. We hope this time the discussions will lead to action.

As Brittingham said in 2011, the last time the board discussed elementary schools, “Just talking, talking, talking about it is not serving our students; it’s not serving our community; it’s not serving anyone.”

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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