Groton's Burning Question Of The Week: How Should The Town Redistrict Its Middle Schools?

Two options are on the table. Which do you think is best?

Superintendent Paul Kadri outlined two options for redistricting the middle schools this week, and a decision will be made shortly.

The first option would send students from Charles Barnum, Mary Morrisson and Pleasant Valley and Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School into West Side Middle School. Students from S.B. Butler, Northeast Academy and Claude Chester would go to Cutler Middle School.

This option has the advantage of keeping children from each of the elementary schools together. But it would also send nearly all of the military students to West Side.

 The second option would feed students from Charles Barnum, S.B. Butler and Northeast Academy into Cutler Middle School, and send students from Mary Morrisson, Pleasant Valley and Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School to West Side. Students from Claude Chester would be divided; half would go to Cutler and half would go to West Side.

This option has the advantage of providing more balance in terms of military students, as some would attend each middle school. But it would divide an elementary, so some children would not attend the same middle school as their classmates.

What do you think Groton should do?

LadyMaMa February 19, 2012 at 12:44 PM
I cannot wait for the parents of the kids from MM, CB and PV to discover that West Side is a PHENOMENAL school. My older daughters moved up to West Side from Groton Heights when it was still open, and I found the school to be well-run and academically challenging. Lest anyone think otherwise, the girl who ranks at the top of the junior class at Fitch this year was a West Side graduate, and my daughter who is in the IB program and has straight As is also a West Side graduate. Looking forward to my youngest daughter moving up to West Side from Kolnaski this fall. The schools on this side of town are underappreciated - they are wonderful schools. Kudos to the teachers and the administrators for doing a great job.
Liz Conlon February 19, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Keep children together with their classmates! There is nothing wrong with having the majority of military students in one school. It makes more sense in terms of the district's resources and the schools' experience and ability to serve the unique needs of that population. Dividing them up for the sake diversity because it looks good on paper is not in the children's best interest. Therefore, Option One is the better choice (or lesser of two evils).
Lindal February 19, 2012 at 02:25 PM
All of Groton's schools are excellent because of the dedication of its staff. Wherever the students go there will be the opportunity for a challenging and comprehensive education. Therefore , choose the option of keeping elementary students from each school together and send students to their closest "neighborhood" school.
B.R.E.E. February 19, 2012 at 03:22 PM
GrotonMom schools are ranked and evaluated by overall performance, not one or two students and certainly not by just white srudents as you have suggested before. Groton schools struggle because of the continuous turnover of students due to the military as well as having a large number of rentals that attract lower income families. Groton is also seeking to become compliant with racial integration guidelines which has complicated the problem.
Groton Res February 19, 2012 at 08:39 PM
How about the fact that it was voted down to close WS Middle and have any of this and the BD of Ed went ahead and decided to do it anyways. Throwing their weight....
B.R.E.E. February 20, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Fitch Middle is the school that is closing. Now we need to expand and renovate Cutler and West Side to accomodate the larger student populations. After that we need to rebuild Butler and Claude Chester. Then expand and renovate Barnum and Morrison and close Pleasant Valley.
augie42 February 20, 2012 at 12:59 AM
A couple of things here people. One, Groton school teachers are probably some of the best in the State. But when it comes to managing the schools, I have some doubts. The Groton school enrollment has continuously gone down since 2005. Right now the total is just under 4900, with the middle schools at about 1000. I believe that the BOE rushed to close a MS without a plan. There is a plan out there that does not cut a MS, it uses elementary schools for consolidation, closes the aging Pleasant Valley, and most of all saves $$$$. We do not need the $1.4 mill for portables and the racial equality is a non issue. This then buys time to formulate a plan for a new middle school on the King property. The plan will be presented AGAIN at the next Council meeting this tuesday during citizens petitions. Hopefully the new MS plan is not as extravagent like phase II.
Jennifer Sim February 20, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Here is a new approach the blogs, lets ask questions to actually try and understand what someone is saying? Augie42- In order to realize your savings, how much will you have to spend to save it? Racial equality is a non-issue is an interesting statement. I am sure this is too rushed of a context from your blog as most statements are in a blog but can you outline why it is a non-issue?
mystmom February 20, 2012 at 02:31 PM
This plan will be presented at the next Town Council meeting? The plan sounds intriguing. I hope the public will be provided with copies of the plan with a cost benefit analysis. Too many plans have been verbalized only, at BOE meetings. It would be nice to actually have a hard copy that can be shown/shared with the public, this is the way to get the plans taken seriously and get the public behind them.
William February 21, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Got that right Augie. Great teachers and abysmal leadership at the top. The Board hired a non educator with a history of controversy, bullying, lawsuits and half truths to lead the District just because he can squeeze money out of schools and staff. He is showing his true colors, yet The Board buys his lies time and again. Thankfully the teachers' union is standing up to him. The Superintendent, well, see above. And he has never taught a minute of school in his life. Building Administrators; Groton has a long history of hiring from within - inexperienced, beholding, and cheap. Leadership experience? Not on the radar. And our teachers, people who have devoted their lives to bettering the lives of children, are expected to perform miracles in the vacuum of leadership. Our school system is a rudderless ship. Replace Superintendent Kadri with a PROVEN leader who is capable of working WITH our administrators and FOR our teachers in a collegial and collaborative manner to create a school system families will move to Groton for, instead of running from. Willy
augie42 February 21, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Frankly Jen Sim, its the situation that you helped create that needs more ideas to fix and less nay-sayers. The fact of the matter is that this 'plan' has been out there for some time....(If you where paying attention during BOE and TC meetings you might have seen it, but you were too busy with your nose in the laptop.) By the way all the 'issues' you exclaim have already been worked out by current and former officials to the point that it will work.....but the BOE has turned their back to it....shame on them. Instead of challenging me, why don't you call Mr Kadri and ask him where is the savings in cutting a MS? What about the $800K in reduction of temp employees salaries? Where is the $1.4 mill for portables coming from?? I would like to meet you...come to TC meeting on Tues....I know who you are...lets chat?....Do you have something to bring to the table......or will you hide behind your laptop?
Jennifer Sim February 21, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Let's not keep it a secret by only giving it at a Town Council meeting. What about all the those individuals who have to work and attend to their families at that time? Many families are working on their children's school work in the evening or that is their only family time. Should they be eliminated from he conversation? They deserve details as much as those that are free to attend meetings are. Can you please publish your plan so that everyone has an opportunity to evaluate the merits? In the interest of open and honest communication I am sure the FFAE would be more than happy to publish the plan on their website. They had promised one as soon as the vote was over but it is still missing in action. No one is opposed to better ideas. They just want the details so they can evaluate if it actually is a better idea.
augie42 February 21, 2012 at 04:00 PM
News flash...Council meetings are on GMTV, and your laptop...sounds like a cop-out to me...or you would rather be at the Spot? The FFAE has not endorsed this plan (yet) as it is not there mission. They just want to inform people and be a part of the debate. Like I said, If you had come to TC/BOE meetings or went back and viewed them you would have heard it. Public documents.
William February 21, 2012 at 10:44 PM
You are wasting your breathe Augie. Just be thankful there is new blood on the BOE. Now pray the Board grows a spine, weans itself off the Kadri Coolaid, and brings in an educator with proven leadership abilities to run the schools before there is nothing left but ashes.
Jennifer Sim February 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM
Again, not willing to make this easily accessible? I have seen the tape of your "plan" but it had zero facts and zero dollars. It rambled about shuffling kids around town without any numbers or consequences for the shuffling. Quite frankly no one knew what you were talking about. So, perhaps if you could, put the plan in writing for everyone hear to see that would be great. I am just one member of the community so I appreciate your deep concern of my whereabouts and actions. However, we have an entire town that does have the ability to run around town to meetings or wait for limited channel 2 showings. If this is such a great plan, then please give us the hard numbers to support the idea. Make it widely acceptable. Why is this a problem to articulate it? Perhaps the Patch can speak with you one on one and get all the details?
augie42 February 22, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Jen, the numbers are already in the hands of the people who could do something with it. Shirvell had them, Kadri had them, Hoyt has it along with backing from others like Greenleaf and others. The point is..........wait for it...the BOE want their plan....and after phase II failed...the balked for months.
rugger23 February 22, 2012 at 01:15 PM
One of the FFAE members had suggested I watch the video as I am too busy at times to make the meetings. There were actually several good ideas, however, in a planning cycle they were clearly "a fuzzy front end". In public comment and private industry, ideas never get accepted unless they move higher into a product or process cycle for which there are many models including NPD. If FFAE is a serious voice in our community and the "affordable" is a very appealing part of their agenda, get off the blogs trying to sell the fuzziness and move to a full process plan and town people will take you seriously. Hopefully...
mystmom February 22, 2012 at 03:10 PM
If the information, with cost/benifit numbers, has been submitted to all these people, why not post them for the general public to see? I like the idea of another plan out there. But, I can't help but be a little sceptical when those that developed it refuse to make it public.
augie42 February 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Ok, everybody....The fact of the matter is the 'plan' was not put out to the general public upon request from past and present BOE members. Do not know any of the details of that but sounds like they weren't changing the original plan anyway.
mystmom February 23, 2012 at 04:01 AM
I've just had the opportunity to watch the Town Council meeting, from 21 February, at GMTV on line. Mr Flax specifically asked for a spreadsheet, or the like, showing the numbers the 'plan' is based on. Mr Trego had to admit there wasn't one; However, he did tell Mr Flax he could speak to Mr Greenleaf, and other staff, to get the information the plan was based on. Another thing that occurred to me was Mr Augment stating that as a member of the FFAE, he supports the plan Mr Tregos presented. Mr Augment implies by, again, stating he is a member of the FFAE, that they endorse this 'plan'. Why hasn't the FFAE, as a group that "just want(s) to inform people...", posted the plan somewhere? People have been asking for it. I agree with rugger 23, "...move to a full process plan...", get it out to the community, or it just may be too late to get public support.
Jennifer Sim February 23, 2012 at 01:16 PM
I do know that board members will receive many mailings from the public expressing how they want things to operate. Most citizens know to share these details to the entire board and then often express the details in a public meeting. In the four years of tenure, not one single document had passed the board's hands that documented a new "plan" supported by FFAE. If you are so concerned that a plan is being hidden, then use your voice. Use the FFAE. Use the Patch. Make it public. Obviously there are plenty of individuals, even Town Council members, willing to listen. I just don't buy that you are worried that the BOE asked you not to share your thoughts on it. I also question naming endorsements from individuals who are not making that same claim. Where is your evidence that Mr. Greenleaf, backed the plan? Don't get hung up on the who, what, when, where. Just post the numbers and let the plan speak for itself. We see you are excited about its potential.
Jennifer Sim February 23, 2012 at 01:20 PM
There are many many ideas put to the BOE members that do not make it out to the public. For example, one RTM member suggested last year that classrooms can be successful in class sizes of 40. BOE members have to weight the rationalism of ideas before they waste the resources of the district moving them forward. If your plan is rationally articulated then let everyone see it and make the BOE accountable for not moving it forward. To me, this approach would be a win win for you.
watchdawg1 February 23, 2012 at 09:56 PM
If you listen to the words of Mr. Aument, he does not say that he 'endorses' Mr. Trejo's plan. What he is saying that the town should look into it because it saves money. Talk to Mr Trejo about the plan, not the FFAE.
mystmom February 23, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I stated "Mr Augment IMPLIES by, again, stating he is a member of the FFAE, that they endorse this 'plan'." I have listened to Mr Tregos talk about his plan several times; I just can't take is seriously without those same numbers Mr Flax asked for last night.


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