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Latest Groton Redistricting Plan Would Move 522 Students

Consultant's proposed plan would affect every elementary school in Groton.

A consulting firm outlined a new version of the Groton school redistricting plan Wednesday that would move 522 children throughout the district and affect every elementary school to correct a racial imbalance and even out student populations across schools.

The Branford consulting firm Milone & MacBroom described the plan at a community meeting before an audience of about 35 people at Claude Chester Elementary School.

Northeast Academy parents

Several parents who spoke said they were upset about a neighborhood with 24 children that would be moved from Northeast Academy to Claude Chester Elementary.

Rebecca Beyus, the parent of a first grader at Northeast, said her son would be the only one in his class to be redistricted to Claude Chester. She said she was so upset she called a school board member and cried.

“How do you tell one little boy that he has to move schools and not a single friend is going with him?” she said, adding that the move is intended to fit a special program. 

“That is just cruel. That is just harsh, and you can’t do that to kids. Put the special program somewhere else,” she said.

“These children will not have each other. They will be scattered,” said Jen Cosmopoulos, who has a son in third grade and twin daughters in kindergarten.

Fenty Lee, who has two children, including a third grader at Northeast, said the plan should consider the children first. She said her children think of themselves as American, not Asian.

“I am a minority. Think of a me as a number, OK,” she said.

Racial imbalance

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

However, the redistricting plan reaches across the town and city. Mike Zuba, associate senior planner with Milone & MacBroom, said Groton has shrinking populations at some schools while others are projected to rise, and the company looked at educational programs and state mandates. He said it wants any redistricting plan to last least five years.

He added that it may be changed.

“This by no means is a final draft,” he said.

Deadlines

Groton plans three other community meetings in the coming weeks, and expects to present the plan to the state Nov. 23. A final plan would be adopted by the school board in December.

School Board Member Robert Peruzzotti said he does not understand why so many children must move to fix a racial imbalance at one school.

“Every single school is affected. I think a lot of people don’t understand that it’s not just Catherine Kolnaski or Mary Morrisson. It’s every school,” he said.

A street by street listing of the redistricting plan will be posted on the school department website today.

Specific changes

The plan includes these specific changes:

  • Students on part of Litton Avenue, Paul Revere Road, Nathan Hale Road and Liberty Drive would be moved from Catherine Kolnaski to Mary Morrisson Elementary.
  • Students on Thomas Road would be moved from Catherine Kolnaski to Claude Chester.
  • Students in the area of Elderkin Avenue, including Chester Street, Benham Road, George Avenue, Joe Avenue, Mumford Avenue, Bishop Lane and Rainville Avenue would be moved from Pleasant Valley to Catherine Kolnaski.
  • Students on Toll Gate Road, part of Bridge Street, Clarence B. Sharp Highway and Litton Avenue would be moved from Pleasant Valley to Mary Morrisson.
  • Students in the area of Fairview Avenue and Walker Hill Road, including Grove Avenue, Riverview Avenue, Senkow Avenue, Shannon Lane, Fieldside Drive and Bushnell Street would be moved from Mary Morrisson to Pleasant Valley.
  • Students along part of Route 12, including Plesant Valley Road, Lafayette Drive, Michigan Drive, Thresher Avenue and Military Highway would be moved from Pleasant Valley to Charles Barnum.
  • Students on Gales Ferry Road and Charlton Lane would be moved from Northeast Academy to Claude Chester.
  • Students in the Midway Oval neighborhood, including those on Industrial Drive, Gary Court, Knoxville Court and Flint Court would be moved from Claude Chester to S.B. Butler Elementary.
  • Students on Ring Drive, Corey Road, Donna Drive, Meryl Court, Paved Road and Hemlock Road would be moved from S.B. Butler to Claude Chester.
Brett Vondeck October 11, 2012 at 09:44 AM
Will it save or cost more for Groton taxpayers?
B.R.E.E. October 11, 2012 at 10:55 AM
I find it curious that numbers in the city of Groton continue to rise so dramatically. I think we really need to do a better job of ensuring these students do in fact live in Groton. There are far too many students from New London coming over to our schools.
Jo October 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM
The extra bussing required will, I'm sure, cost more money that could be going into the schools themselves. Sad.
Groton Parents October 11, 2012 at 11:59 AM
The main driver of the redistricting is the state mandate, which is unfunded by the state so yes, the redistricting itself will cost the district money and not save money. I also agree with B.R.E.E's point. If my child is being moved when there are students from other towns that is not right. The kids that live here deserve to be able to stay at their schools, especially if kids from out of town are at that same school.
Rick McDonald October 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Actually a school is considered racially imbalanced if the minority population is more than 25 percentage points above or below the district average, not just above. What does that really mean? It sounds like a lot. Maybe, maybe not. If the district average is 100 minority students than a school with less than 75 or more than 126 students is considered racially imbalanced. What are the actual student numbers?
Tim Harrington October 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
It's always better to close down brick schools in favor of trailers. Then you can use them for something else, or sell them. It's been done before.
Northeast Academy Grandparent October 11, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Hasn't this issue already been adjudicated by the Supreme Court and found to be unconstitutional; under any name? Why does this keep being an issue? I would think the itizens of the Groton system would be much more concerned about the staggering amount of money being paid to the new superintendant. Now that's an issue that deserves a very close look.
Dave October 11, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Where does this craziness end? Do the schools need to be height (tall/short) balanced, eye color balanced, religion balanced? What about the teachers. Are they racially balanced between schools? The general consensus is that all elementary students in Groton are receiving the same level of quality education. Nearly all the students and parents prefer to keep the districting the way it currently is. This state mandate is also unconstituitional.
SubSailor October 11, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Sounds like all this redistricting conflicts with the current BOE's beliefs - "The BOE believes diversity provides Groton with a unique strength as long as it is actively cultivated." It all boils down to the almighty dollar. How much state funding will the district lose because our minority makeup does not meet the state mandate? I say to hell with the "balance requirements" and concentrate on the level of quality education!
Johanna Ocasio-Heil, DMD October 11, 2012 at 05:01 PM
What's racially embalanced is that more than half of those 24 kids are "minorities" including my two sons. So you are removing minorities to replace minorities. i live in the neighborhood in question. Mathematically, we are such a minute percentage. You are displacing a handful of kids. Anyone take their feelings into account?? You are uprooting these kids to a new place and new everything. My kids are unhappy and stressed about the whole situation. And on a selfish note, I did purchase my home with my hard earned money to have my children attend this particular school. At the end of the day I want those making this insane decision to explain to my kids why they are being singled out and console them
Richard T. Froh October 11, 2012 at 06:26 PM
The only way that such grotesque Orwellian unfairness to individual children could be justified is if we are able to ignore our Constitution and indoctrinate children to believe that they should dry their tears and suck it up because their individual rights must be sacrificed for the perceived benefits to the group as defined by the Central Gubmin'ts diversity goals. I am SHOCKED that any child in today's public schools wouldn't be proud to sacrifice his/her happiness for the good of the group! Are our indoctrination measures failing? Arrest these children and their parents, and re-educate them effectively - diversity goals trump individual rights because group needs (as identified by Gubmint bureaucrats) trump all other considerations. WHAT Constitution?!?!?!?! The next selfish brat that mentions the Constitution will be made to go stand in the corner.
Genevieve Triplett October 14, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Sub sailor you are so right.
Mariellen V. French October 14, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Be careful Mr. Froh, not everybody recognizes sarcasm or enjoys it as much as I do. Little kids are fragile, and sending one child to another school could mean a large setback educationally and emotionally. When you must provide carseats and seat belts in your own vehicle, but the buses don't provide either, who wants children on a bus for any longer that absolutely necessary? And, then, there's the subject of bullying. Stand in the corner, Mr. Froh? You want to single out a child to be ridiculed? How are teachers supposed to keep dicipline without corporal punishment? My fourth grade teacher had a wicked leather strap in the bottom drawer of her desk, and had us all look at it on the first day of class. If you were bad, she would crook her finger for you to go to her desk, open that drawer, you both looked in, then she gave you the evil eye and sent you back to your desk. Meanwhile, the rest of the kids cowered at their desks in terror. She never actually took the strap out of her desk, but everyone knew someone who knew someone who had heard about the time she did.

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