The Groton Board of Education voted 7-0 Monday night to consolidate from three to two middle schools and to keep Cutler and West Side middle schools open.
Fitch Middle School would close, but the building would be used as swing space during construction at other schools.
Board members Rita Volkmann and Shelley Gardner abstained from the vote. failed 4-5. Board members Volkmann, Gardner, Beverly Washington and Chaz Zezulka voted in favor of rescinding.
Board members said they felt compelled to close one of the schools because keeping all three open would result in a shortfall of $1.5 million in the coming fiscal year, forcing cuts to other programs. The school department still expects to be $1.5 million short if Representative Town Meeting wants another year of zero percent increases in school spending.
But Superintendent Paul Kadri said that gap may be closed due to two factors: Groton will not need money it spent this year on software for a new literacy program and schools may see savings in health care. He said he could probably spare programs and close a $1.5 million gap, but not one double that.
“If we keep up with three schools, I have no plan for that,” he said.
Kadri said he would recommend dividing the roughly 1,000 middle school students equally into six teams at each school, if the school board opted to close a building. The plan would require portables at West Side and Cutler.
Wes Greenleaf, director of buildings and grounds for Groton Public Schools, at the southwest corner of the building. City officials are expected to meet with LLR Architects Friday morning to determine if this is possible.
If it's not, or if the district cannot meet the requirements of racial balancing, transportation and redistricting, Kadri said he would recommend five teams at West Side and seven teams at Cutler.
This scenario would place 433 students at one school and 597 at the other, with class sizes about the same, with a student to teacher ratio of a little more than 21 to 1.
The , followed by facilities and the impact on taxpayers.
The board received 660 responses to the survey, including 114 from people affiliated with West Side, 254 from Cutler and 98 from Fitch Middle School.
Fitch Middle School was built in 1928, with separate elementary and high school entities before merging together in the 1950s as a junior high school. was a factor in their decision.