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School Board: Middle Schools Are Priority For Future Construction

School board will survey residents about why they voted against Phase II and what they want to see in the future.

 

The next phase of school construction in Groton should focus on middle schools, the school board decided Monday.

The five members present at Monday’s board meeting said they do not want three middle schools in Groton, but would be satisfied with one or with two. They said there are no deal breakers in terms of where that school or schools would be built.

Their decisions on further specifics for the next school construction plan will depend on the outcome of a survey of town residents asking why the “Phase II” referendum failed and what they want to see in the future, board members said.

In May 2011, called “Phase II" that relied on state subsidies and had an anticipated reimbursement rate to reduce the cost to $65.8 million.

The referendum over the cost of the project, the size of the proposed middle school, the location of the school, the reconfiguration of elementary grades and the investment in early childhood education.

The proposal also saw the creation of a political action committee opposed to the project and seeking a different approach.

Interim Superintendent Randall Collins said he would speak to Town Manger Mark Oefinger today about how the survey about Phase II should be done.

The district may use the University of Connecticut or a consulting firm under contract with the school department. The survey may be paid for using part of the $75,000 allocated by Representative Town Meeting this year for the next school construction project.

Board member Beth Gianacoplos said middle school construction should be the priority because Groton consolidated middle schools this year with the promise it would plan for the future.

“We sold that to people that this is a short term, and then we would look at long term,” she said.

Board members plan to call the proposal “The Middle School Improvement Project” and will forward their thoughts to the town council.

Town Mayor Heather Bond Somers is assembling a task force of residents to develop the plan for future school construction. The members of that group have not yet been named.

B.R.E.E. June 05, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Two middle schools are a must. Our elementary schools are very old and can not accommodate 6th grade. Leaving 6th grade in a town wide 6-8 middle school creates a very large school that turns folks off. Perhaps we could have 5/6 for one school (this school should focus on getting students up to state expectation regarding testing) and 7/8 (this school should prepare students for high school) for another or divide the town up for two middle schools geographically. The first proposal removes the need for future redistricting as it places students together; however, the latter is probably more likely to be supported by the town. I would suggest that there then be 6 elementary schools (CK,SBB, NEA, CB, MM; closing PV or CC) with 3 schools providing early childhood programs. The early childhood programs could be altered allow the district to comply with state guidelines. I would suggest Butler, NEA, and CB house these programs. Get rid of this wasteful magnet school idea as it has been ineffective. I would keep the schools at Cutler and West Side and renovate them new similar to Clark Lane did several years back. Our test results begin to drop in middle school so we need a stronger emphasis on standards. Phase II failed because it was attempting to initiate an Early childhood program, renovate older schools and bring a new middle school to town. It was too big of a plan and the cost turned many people off.
Laura June 07, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I like the idea of a 5-6 and 7-8 plan. East Lyme does this at their middle school and has students loop during these grades as well to give students and teachers more time together. I think the growth that can occurr in a looping plan could be amazing and should be investigated.
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