Shelton BOE narrows redistricting focus to two options
School board members continue to debate where lines should be redrawn for each district, all while narrowing the focus to two possible redistricting options.
The Board of Education, in a special meeting Wednesday, April 3, examined the proposed maps and enrollment projections for three redistricting plans presented to it by Milone & MacBroom last month. And in the process, board members agreed to submit any questions to school Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet, who will obtain the answers from Milone & MacBroom consultants.
Those answers, Clouet said, would be available prior to the next redistricting meeting on April 23, with the superintendent again stating he hoped a final vote could come Wednesday, April 24. All the preliminary maps are available to view at https://tinyurl.com/SheltonSchools.
“I think we would should start with [plan] five or six as our base plan,” said Board of Education Chair Mark Holden, “and then look at any tweaks that might be done if necessary to try to make it a better long-term plan.”
Milone & MacBroom originally presented six alternatives, but only three — scenarios 4, 5 and 6 — are being considered by the Board of Education, with board members debating the benefits of 5 and 6.
Scenario 5 would move 109 kindergarten through third grade students from Long Hill and Elizabeth Shelton schools and spread them among Mohegan, Long Hill and Elizabeth Shelton schools. Again, Route 108 would serve as the natural boundary between Elizabeth Shelton and Mohegan schools. In this scenario, all the schools are projected to stay at or below “target” utilization in the first five years. Mohegan may exceed utilization targets, according to the consultants, but not capacity (440), in the long term.
Finally, scenario 6 would move 103 kindergarten through third grade students from Long Hill, Mohegan and Elizabeth Shelton schools and spread them through Mohegan, Long Hill and Elizabeth Shelton schools. For this scenario, Route 108 and Soundview Avenue serve as natural boundaries between Elizabeth Shelton and Mohegan schools. With this plan, all schools are projected to stay at or below “target” utilization in the first five years of the 10-year enrollment projections. Mohegan School remains closer to utilization targets than in scenario 5, and Elizabeth Shelton Schools would have slightly higher utilization rates but within the target maximum for the next nine years.
Sunnyside School is not touched in any of these three scenarios. Booth Hill School would not be part of redistricting in scenarios 5 and 6.
“I would advise for the plan that, ultimately, moves the fewest amount of kids,” said Clouet. “We need to reduce the overcrowding at Elizabeth Shelton and Long Hill, that’s why we are doing this. I would advise the board that moving kids from every school is not necessarily the best plan.”
“My concern with 6 is how far it stretches into the downtown area,” said board member Amanda Kilmartin. “I prefer 5 for that primary reason.
Kilmartin said, staying with the concept of using roads as natural boundaries, with Route 108 and Soundview as one, Perry Hill as another, the long-term projections show the problem with scenario 5 would be the potential for Mohegan School to hit or exceed its target maximum.
Kilmartin said her question for the consultants is what if a cut was made into the presently proposed boundary, which would eliminate students from Mohegan and shift then to Long Hill School?
“That would have more wiggle room for Mohegan,” said Kilmartin. “From a practicality standpoint and a human standpoint, considering kids on buses, it makes more sense and is worth looking at that.”
“I agree,” said board member Kathy Yolish. “That is my concern as well.”
Board members stated their goal of also identifying the plan which leaves the most growth in every school, particularly the crowded ones.
“We have to go with the best information we have about what’s out there,” said Holden about board members’ concerns about future housing development in areas of the community, “so we can come out with a proposal with one that will last as close to 10 years as we can.”
“The three plans we looked at, the bottom is 103 kids, the top is 109 kids, so we’re not moving that many kids,” said board member David Gioiello, adding that the ideal scenario is moving the fewest number of students while gaining the most years with the redistricting plan.
Dr. Darlisa P. Ritter, who stressed that consultants further examine long-term impacts on Long Hill School area, also said that if a school is on a certain road, those feeder streets off that road should go to that school.
“I don’t know the total case when these plans were developed,” said Ritter.
While the plans are designed to reduce overcrowding at Elizabeth Shelton School, board member Kate Kutash said that plans 5 and 6 seem to help in that regard, none appear to truly “stop the bleeding” with student population growth in that district, however the final lines are drawn.
“There is a great influx, and it will continue, I think,” said Yolish.