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.”
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.