Parents speak out at BOE forum

0
31

NAUGATUCK — The school board believes it can save between $1.2 million and $1.6 million through a reconfiguration plan that would close one school building.

But parents who flocked to a meeting about the plan Tuesday night said the board cannot put a price on their children’s education.

“You might not be able to work the numbers on your trusty calculator, but there is a huge cost in dismantling [Andrew Avenue Elementary School],” said Laurie Andrew, who has three children at Andrew Avenue and one at Hillside Middle School. All of her children would be moved under both reconfiguration plans being considered by the school board.

The board’s facilities planning subcommittee presented two reconfiguration plans to more than 150 people, mostly parents, in the City Hill Middle School auditorium Tuesday. The subcommittee plans to use comments from Tuesday’s meeting to decide which plan to bring to the full board at its meeting March 11. The full board is expected to decide on a reconfiguration plan in an effort to make up a projected budget deficit for next fiscal year.

The board expects that its anticipated $56 million allocation from the borough will be about $7 million short of what is needed, if all staff and programs remain in place.

Of the four reconfiguration plans originally being considered, the board now appears to focus solely on two plans. One would close Salem Elementary School and the other would close Prospect Street Elementary School.

These are the plans:

Pre-kindergarten programs at Andrew Avenue School; K-4 configurations at Central Avenue, Hop Brook, Maple Hill, Salem and Western Schools; grades 5-6 at Hillside and Cross Street; grades 7-8 at City Hill; closing Prospect Street School. Prospect Street, which is 37,000 square feet, was built in 1953 and has a capacity of 322 students.

That plan is expected to save $1.19 million, which includes a $592,489 savings from combining the two middle schools and a savings of $599,865 from closing Prospect Street.

Pre-kindergarten programs at Prospect Street; K-4 at Andrew Avenue, Central Avenue, Hop Brook, Maple Hill and Western; grades 5-6 at Hillside and Cross Street; grades 7-8 at City Hill; close Salem Elementary School, which is 41,000 square feet, was built in 1883 and can hold 383 students.

That plan is expected to save $1.58 million, which includes the savings from combining the two middle schools and a savings of $991,625 from closing Salem.

Those figures include savings from teachers who are taking early retirement from the district, the board said.

On Tuesday, school administrators tried to convince parents that the reconfiguration plans will work out in the long run.

Hillside Principal Brian Sullivan, who will likely retire at the end of this school year, said he opposed combining the two middle schools for a long time but now believes something must be done in light of the potential $7 million budget shortfall.

“In my heart of hearts, I believe it will be OK,” he said.