School closing among cost-savings options

NAUGATUCK — Prospect Street Elementary School could be shut down under a new school reconfiguration plan being considered by the Board of Education.

The board’s facilities planning committee met last week and discussed several options proposed by JCJ Architecture of Hartford. The committee said it liked two proposals and wanted to revise those to include closing Prospect Street School, which was built in 1953 and currently has 314 students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

The Board of Education is considering facilities reconfiguration options; chief among them is a plan to close Prospect Street School in Union City.

The Board of Education is considering facilities reconfiguration options; chief among them is a plan to close Prospect Street School in Union City.

The board is looking at several reconfiguration options in an attempt to save money. The school system, if personnel and programming remain unchanged, will likely be about $4 million in the hole in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The board knows it needs to make drastic changes to minimize layoffs and program cuts. Reconfiguration, with the possibility of a school closure, is one way to achieve savings, along with an early retirement incentive plan and cutting many positions through attrition.

Cost savings for reconfiguration options have not been calculated, school board members said.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Tindall-Gibson said last Wednesday that closing Prospect Street was one of many possibilities being considered. He said the committee will recommend a reconfiguration scenario to the full board within the next couple of months, and the full board will likely decide before presenting its budget proposal to borough officials on March 22.

The two options the board seems to favor, according to an e-mail sent to the school system by JCJ Architecture, would close Prospect Street Shool and convert Andrew Avenue School, currently an elementary school, into an early childhood learning center for pre-kindergarten and Head Start pupils.

One scenario would convert the two current middle schools, City Hill and Hillside, from grades 7 and 8 to grades 6-8. It would turn Cross Street and Hop Brook intermediate schools, which now house grades 5 and 6, into traditional elementary schools with grades K-5.

That configuration would also be created at Central Avenue, Maple Hill, Salem and Western schools, which are all currently configured as grades K-4.

That plan would have 23.7 students in the average middle school classroom, 24 in the average K-5 classrooms and 18 in the average pre-K classes at Andrew Avenue.

The second scenario would combine Hillside and City Hill middle schools and make City Hill, the larger of the two buildings, the only middle school. Hillside would become an intermediate school, and Cross Street would remain an intermediate school.

Central Avenue, Hop Brook, Maple Hill, Salem and Western would be K-4 configurations.

That plan would leave 22.2 students in the average middle school classroom, 27.7 students in the average intermediate classroom, 22.4 in the average K-4 classroom and 18 in the average pre-K classroom.

The school board was scheduled to meet Thursday at 7 p.m., at Prospect Street School, but it was not expected to make a decision about the reconfiguration plan because the facilities subcommittee wants to review the proposals further.