Redistricting Plan Would Shift 20 Percent Of Groton Elementary Students

Plan would divide the federally-subsidized housing complex Branford Manor and send half the students to one school, half to another.

The Branford consulting firm Milone & MacBroom outlined a redistricting plan Monday that would move 20 percent of Groton’s elementary school students and split the federally-subsidized housing complex Branford Manor between two schools, sending about half of the students to Mary Morrisson Elementary and half to Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School.

The firm outlined the plan before a joint meeting of the Groton School Board and Town Council. The timetable is to hold community meetings to hear parents’ concerns, present a draft plan to the state in November, then adopt a final plan in December.

Correcting an imbalance

Groton was forced to redistrict because the state cited the district for a racial imbalance at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet. 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.

Mike Zuba, associate senior planner with Milone & MacBroom, said the firm considered the capacity of schools first, then how to accommodate programs and meet state mandates. Then it looked at issues like keeping neighborhoods together and minimizing busing costs, he said.

“There’s no way to take little bites here,” Zuba said. “You need to take a big bite here to get that big impact.”

Specific changes

The plan includes these specific changes:

  • In the upper northwest corner of town, 66 students from the area west of Route 12 to where Pleasant Valley Road splits off would be moved from Pleasant Valley Elementary to Charles Barnum Elementary.
  • Further south, 43 students from the area just north of Route 1 who now attend Mary Morrisson Elementary would go to Pleasant Valley Elementary.
  • The boundary for Mary Morrisson would extend to the south; 31 students who now attend Pleasant Valley on streets including Litton Avenue and Paul Revere Road in Groton City would go to Mary Morrisson.
  • Students living in Branford Manor Apartments would be split between two schools. Those living on Branford Avenue would attend Mary Morrisson; those living on Mather Avenue would attend Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School.
  • The boundary for Claude Chester would be shifted east; 57 students who now attend Claude Chester and live in the Long Hill Road area would attend Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School.
  • The boundary around Claude Chester would pick up 32 students in the area of Ring Drive who now attend S.B. Butler.
  • The boundary for S.B. Butler would shift to pick up 56 students in the area of Central Avenue. Those students who now attend Claude Chester would be moved to S.B. Butler.

The idea behind the plan is to reduce the minority population at Catherine Kolnaski and free up space for more magnet students to attend. The plan is also intended to bring more diversity to S.B. Butler Elementary and free up space at Claude Chester Elementary to make room for preschool programs, so they are more centrally located.


JustSomeone00 September 18, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Oh, and didn't they try to send kids from Indian Field and Poquonnock Bridge to S.B. Butler and a bunch of parents from that area submitted letters and proof that they don't have reliable transportation or child care, and their kids were kept at Claude Chester and Fitch Middle. Funny that they're making another go at this...
Alison September 18, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Exactly my point! I didnt argue with sending my child to SB Butler although Claude Chester was more convienant. Now why undue what has already been done. Come up with another plan. Not to mention my mother does foster care and the child she fosters began Kindergarten at Claude Chester. He is now in the 1st grade and the biological mother is about to get him back. She has completely up and relocated to be able to keep him at Claude Chester. According to this draft he will now be moved to SB Butler. Are you kidding me? The town does not understand the aggravation this would cause to so many families!
Rick Cady September 18, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Our government at work once again. All this after once again hiring a consulting firm to make the decisions, I guess that's better than our local representatives taking the heat for it. Another socialistic blunder! Has anyone asked the mother of little Johnny who can presently walk to school how she feels about little Johnny busing an half to an hour to and from school. As long as we sit back and let them spoon feed us the BS it will continue!
Larry Lynch September 18, 2012 at 04:03 PM
This seems to me, to be an EXCELLENT way to prove to the children involved that they are simply numbers on a graph, and that wrenching them away from the friends they go to school with just doesn't matter a whit! Im so tired of all this "politically correct" CRAP-O-LA.
Dave September 18, 2012 at 04:21 PM
In 2007 the US Supreme Court ruled that redistricting because of racial imbalance is unconstitutional. If Groton challenges the law, and it goes to court, the law will be rescinded. Is there something I am missing here? If so please explain it to me. "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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parents_Involved_in_Community_Schools_v._Seattle_School_District_No._1
JustSomeone00 September 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
It's sad that in my generation - we have friends we met in Kindergarten well into adulthood, and our kids won't get that because of this "redistricting" bs.
Northeast Academy Grandparent September 18, 2012 at 04:53 PM
If the true point of the changes is the improvement of the education of the students, then why not just make sure that ALL the schools get great teachers. By the way, has anyone asked the kids where they want to go to school, who they want as their classmates, and wheather or not they want to spend an additional twenty minutes on a bus going home everyday or getting up early to catch a busto go across town. Playing musical chairs with students is not the way to improve the Groton educational experience; try keeping some experienced teachers on the payroll and insisting that ALL students respect their teachers and that disruptive behavior WILL NOT BE TOLERATED by anyone; student or parent.
raub65 September 18, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I suggest we all get down to that December meeting and let them hear our concerns...I liked Larry Lynch's statement.."numbers on a graph". so true...these consultants or the state do not care about Allison or any of the parents affected, as long as they can regulate you. More regulations!!! that is why we are in debt...1.4 trillion more dollars spent in regulations since Obama took over..112 more pages in the CFR. ....luckily my kids only have 4 more years of public schools (if they last) and then they're off to the Williams School.
Rick McDonald September 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Alison, it is not that Kolnaski is not racially diverse it is that there are over 20 percent more minority students at Kolnaski than at the other schools.
Alison September 18, 2012 at 06:19 PM
@Rick McDonald, maybe I am not being politically correct in my wording but I believe it all means the same thing. They changed the district years ago because SB Butler didnt have enough minorities. Now they want to change the district because Catherine Kolnaski has too many minorities.
Rick McDonald September 18, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I believe you misunderstood. My point is that Kolnaski is already racially diverse. This is being done because on race, not sure which, is 20% higher than the other schools. That really doesn't mean a whole lot, if the district average for Asians is 10 than a school with 13 would be 30% above the average. This whole redistricting is just plain dumb
Carol Day September 18, 2012 at 07:46 PM
If we had voted Yes on Phase II Another Middle school might be close to finished (plus costing us LESS money during the worst of the recession) & "Eastern Point" could open at the current West Side so that more students could walk & Kolnaski would have room to be a true Magnet school. I also would like to see a map of the proposed changes to see if any walkers would need to be bused. I would rather pay for more teachers rather than more buses. Once again the real issue is affordable housing spread through out the district. The School District has NO say in zoning that concentrates affordable housing & to many up & coming minorities in just a few areas. My daughter grew to be a more compassionate well rounded adult (as well as a National Merit Finalist) because she shared classes with students from a variety of different social & economic groups.
KPod September 18, 2012 at 08:01 PM
If people have an issue with the new resdistricting plan (and I can totally understand why), please attend one of the public forums and tell them your concerns. I assume that the BOE does not read these comments but they will pay attention to you if you speak at a meeting.
Dave September 18, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Affirmative action, in todays soceity, is unnecesary and actually promotes racism. There is no conspiracy going on here. All the students, in Groton, receive the same quality/quantity of resoures (teachers, textbooks, facilities, programs, etc.). In fact the school with the least minority students, S.B. Butler, has the oldest and most decrepid building. Kolnaski, on the other hand, is brand new. The only reason for the imbalance is racial geography.
D Paul September 18, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Dave's post US "Supreme Court ruled that redistricting because of racial imbalance is unconstitutional." Is interesting. What I would like to know is how much $$ did we pay this consulting firm for their recommendation; and why don't we have in house people to make the assessment and recommendations rather than paying a consulting firm?
John Yannacci, Sr. September 18, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Bussing was stupid in South Boston in the 70s and it's still stupid now.
mystmom September 18, 2012 at 11:11 PM
A school is considered "imbalanced" when it goes over the percentage of minority students district wide. If the district as whole has 20% minority students, a school is considered imbalanced if it is even over by one percentage point.
Robert W. Beaulieu September 19, 2012 at 01:08 AM
It should be noted that the only people who have problems with redistricting are the adults. The kids at West Side and Cutler are doing fine. Class sizes are in most cases the same or smaller than last year. The only place we notice the increased numbers is in the cafeteria at West Side which could be bigger. I am at both schools so see how the kids handle the changes first hand. They are much better at change than us. Rob
Rick McDonald September 19, 2012 at 12:18 PM
@mystmom, that is not correct. Per the States Racial Imbalance Standard, any school in which the percentage of minority students enrolled falls outside the range of 25 percentage points more or less than the district-wide percentage is considered racially imbalanced.
Rick McDonald September 19, 2012 at 12:21 PM
The redistricting is due to an imbalance in CKMS, a grade school, nothing to do with the Middle schools. The kids at West Side and Cutler were moved from Fitch Middle because the school was closed. Also these kids are also older and better able to handle the change.
CKMS PARENT September 19, 2012 at 01:56 PM
What about the kids that goes to the before and after school program at CKMS. There's alot of student that goes to this program. By putting these kids at Mary Morrisson are they going to go to the KSACC Program still. Branford Manor Kids should stay in the school that they go to right now. Having the kids move to a different school is not a good idea. Mary Morrisson doesn't have a before and after school program. There are some parent that don't have cars, how are they going to pick up there child.
mystmom September 19, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Sorry Rick- that's how it was explained to me by a central office staff member. Thanks for clearing up the confusion!
Dave September 19, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Rick, Is a "grade school" the same thing as an elementary school? haha Robert was simply making the point that kids adapt to attending a different school fairly well.
Rick McDonald September 19, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Sorry Dave he opens his comment wit a statement about redistricting the provide an example of a situation cause by something else and with older kids.
Thomas September 19, 2012 at 10:46 PM
I have a son at Catherine Kolnaski magnet that is doing great in school.This plan will cause him to lose friends and become uninterestd and flunk out.Who ever came up with this one,it's a stupid plan!!
Robert W. Beaulieu September 19, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Elementary, Middle or High School the kids still handle change better than adults. Check with those who work with kids. Rob
Rick McDonald September 20, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Thank you for the clarification, but please keep your sarcasm/condescension
Rick McDonald September 20, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Also Rob, why is it necessary for the kids to have to adjust in the first place? This whole redistricting has no basis in education, it is simple happening because of a law on the books that in other states has been ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.
Genevieve Triplett October 15, 2012 at 01:09 AM
We need to stop the madness civil rights lawyer?
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