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Groton School Board Approves Redistricting Plan

New Boundaries Would Move More Than 200 Students

 

The Groton Board of Education on Monday approved a redistricting plan for elementary and middle school students that would shift more than 200 students in the coming school year to correct a racial imbalance at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School and consolidate from three middle schools to two.

Board members said they didn’t want to redistrict, but felt they had little choice.

“I personally don’t have another answer,” Board Member Chaz Zezulka said. The board voted 6-1 for redistricting, with member Shelley Gardner against.

Groton was forced to redistrict elementary students because the state cited Groton last winter for a racial imbalance at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School. The school had a minority population of 60.3 percent; a school is considered racially imbalanced if the minority population is greater than 25 percentage points above the district average.

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Kadri said the redistricting plan won’t correct the imbalance but will bring it within a few students of being in compliance.

“If you don’t vote on this, there’s no shot,” he told the board. Voting on the plan could bring the school within one or two students of the state’s rule, he said.

Kadri said he believes the state will accept the plan as a short-term solution.

Shifting students

The redistricting would shift 50 to 60 students out of Catherine Kolnaski to create space so more magnet students may attend. The change would also reduce class size.

One parent said he doesn’t understand why the school department would disrupt students for a plan that won’t bring the school into compliance.

 “It’s a band-aid for a wound that’s too big,” he said.

Exceptions

Kadri said two parents with children at Catherine Kolnaski have asked that their children be allowed to stay in the school. He said he would liberally consider requests for exceptions from the redistricting plan.

“I think we have to be extra sensitive to the needs of the families within this area to be able to make accommodations,” he said.

Kadri also said he would try to make arrangements so students moved from Kolnaski to Mary Morrisson Elementary can be bused back to Kolnaski for its after school program.

Legislative remedy

The Board of Education had hoped to seek a waiver of the racial balance rule, but learned from Connecticut State Board of Education Legal and Governmental Affairs attorney Laura Anastasio, and the Groton School District would be sued.

Kadri said he’d rather push for new legislation rather than challenge the law in court. Groton is also eligible for 80 to 85 percent reimbursement from the state for new school construction that corrects a racial imbalance.

Kadri said Groton could jeopardize that money by getting into a legal fight with the state.

Middle School Redistricting

Under the redistricting plan, students would attend middle schools based on this arrangement: those at Claude Chester, Northeast Academy and S.B. Butler would go to Cutler Middle School.

Students at Catherine Kolnaski, Charles Barnum, Pleasant Valley and Mary Morrisson would go to West Side.

Elementary Redistricting

The elementary redistricting plan would have Charles Barnum and Mary Morrisson pick up students from Pleasant Valley so that Pleasant Valley could take neighborhood children out of Catherine Kolnaski Magnet, freeing up space.

The idea is that added space would allow more magnet students from outside the neighborhood to attend.

Some specific changes are below:

  • Charles Barnum would pick up students from the area of Ohio Avenue, Michigan Drive and Georgia Street who now attend Pleasant Valley.
  • Pleasant Valley would extend its area south and pick up students from streets around Riverview Avenue.
  • Mary Morrisson would cover additional territory to the south and pick up students from the Bayberry Hill Road area, Virginia Avenue and parts of Elderkin Avenue and Rainville Avenue.
  • Claude Chester would keep Midway Oval in its district. Students on Kings highway, Pamela Avenue and Bonnie Circule would continue attending Claude Chester. In an earlier plan, they would have been moved to Mary Morrisson.
  • Butler would keep Ring Drive, and would add an area to the north including High Meadow Lane and Daniel Brown Drive.
B.R.E.E. May 01, 2012 at 09:59 AM
Is it true that the board also approved a roof replacement for FMS? Why are we closing it if we are still going to maintain it? We need to demolish the buildings that are no longer in use as soon as we can. How many closed schools are we now maintaining? What a waste of money! Also, this plan is naive because we will be forced to redistrict again in 2-3 years as it fails to address the problem at CKMS. We need leadership and a clear vision for Groton schools on the board. The Branford Manor neighborhood should be bused to other schools around town. We don't even know if the renters that live there will be there in a year or two years. Who really believes that more whites are going to sign up to go to the CKMS now?
William May 01, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Kadri 'believes' the State will accept the plan? Did he ASK the State if they will accept it? Did the Board really APPROVE a plan that does not bring 100% compliance WITHOUT the State's input? More great work GPS! :-(
Dannyboy May 01, 2012 at 11:00 AM
I think this will help the private schools in the area regain some students.
Deborah Straszheim (Editor) May 01, 2012 at 11:14 AM
The roof replacement is for a section of Fitch High School.
Rick McDonald May 01, 2012 at 12:16 PM
A middle school partly because there are not enough students to support three schools (all are under capacity) yet part of Kadri's reason for not having a legal fight is that it may jeopardize state reimbursement for a new school (still tax money, just a different pot) even though residents clearly showed they do not want another school right now.
Carly Fisher May 01, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I haven't been following too closely, so please clarify if possible - they are moving around students based on their address - does that mean the address is a direct correlation to their race? It seems like they are going to line the kids up, look at their skin and say "stay" or "move." If I'm wrong, which I hope I am, please explain.
Rick McDonald May 01, 2012 at 01:20 PM
That should have read A middle school is being closed partly ...
Moonshadow50 May 01, 2012 at 01:38 PM
If you notice the children who live in the more affluent sections of town are not being impacted by the redistricting.
Scotch May 01, 2012 at 03:02 PM
My son pictured here will attend his 4 th Groton Public school this fall due to over crowding and redistricting. As a parent this is heart breaking. He's only 6 years old. This disruption plan is a bandaid for a huge problem with GPS.
B.R.E.E. May 01, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I noticed that the students that live on High Meadow Ln and Daniel Brown Dr are being moved from NEA to SBB.
B.R.E.E. May 01, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I completely agree and feel horrible that your son has had to wothstand this injustice. It is happening for a couple of reasons; 1.) redsitricting is required by the state, and 2) residents failed to support a plan (Phase II) that would have addressed these concerns, and 3) the board has failed to develop a long term solution to our problems. We need a new vision for Groton. Refer to my plan from earlier posts regarding a plan for Groton schools.
William May 01, 2012 at 09:49 PM
The flood gates opened when Kadri couldn't put together a middle school schedule that worked. Teachers have been filling out recommendations for Williams, St. Bernards and Fishers Island at the request of parents since October, and are still receiving them weekly. Kadri will say they are fleeing the integration of consolidating with FMS, but most have just plain had it with the ineptitude of the BOE and Superintendent Kadri.
fed up May 01, 2012 at 10:04 PM
as i understand High Meadow Lane has always gone to Butler, correct me if i am wrong. This plan does not fix the problem.We are shifting kids for no reason. Only to have to revisit this nightmare next year. Brilliant!
mom2boys May 02, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Yes the address is a direct correlation to their race which can be found on the BOE website.
nicole s. May 04, 2012 at 02:26 AM
When does this start? And how do you find out if your child will be transfered?
Dave May 22, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Redistricting because of racial imbalance is unconstitutional. "Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, (2007)", is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court prohibited assigning students to public schools solely for the purpose of achieving racial integration and declined to recognize racial balancing as a compelling state interest.

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