Groton Schools Superintendent Paul Kadri said after discussions with state education officials, it’s clear there’s no fixing the racial imbalance at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School short of re-districting.
“We’ve had several conversations,” Kadri said, and now the plan is to “reach out to the architect to begin the next round of calculations on re-districting.”
Kadri recently outlined redistricting proposals that would shift some kids from their neighborhood schools to fix the imbalance at Kolnaski.
The Board of Education had hoped to seek a waiver of the state’s racial balance rules, but following the conversation with Connecticut State Board of Education Legal and Governmental Affairs attorney Laura Anastasio, not only is there no waiver, but there is little to no wiggle room for correcting the imbalance in more creative ways.
For example, board member Chaz Zezulka questioned if students moving in and out of district and from school to school might be a way to correct racial imbalances.
“Is there any way, as a system, to keep track on a monthly basis to keep track of our numbers? We know we have populations that change month to month.”
School board member Kim Watson said that she was part of the conversation with Anastasio.
“I left the meeting thinking how creative we could be to (achieve) a racial balance, but (Anastasio) said ‘absolutely not.’ She said it ‘would be nice, really nice, but no.’”
According to Kadri, the formula for achieving a racial balance “is taking the percentage of white and non-white students across grade levels, calculate the percentage of white and non-white and if you’re 25% above or below that average, you’re out of compliance.” As is the case at Kolnaski where he said, “several months ago it was in the 20s.”
But BOE chair Kirsten Hoyt said “there’s a population of students that need that school.”
“You’d have to add 100 to 120 students into that school (to make it work),” she said.
Kadri also suggested that making re-districting work and securing a complaint racial balance and requisite diversity could help the district in other ways.
“This governor has an 80 to 85 percent reimbursement on (school) construction that (addresses) racial diversity,” Kadri said, adding that a legislator told him, ‘Don’t wait Groton, if you’re interested.’”