District to explore possibility of redistricting

The city’s Board of Education voted to undergo a redistricting study in order to align the school district and bus routes in a way that’s more efficient for the community.

“Some schools are too crowded and others have room,” said the superintendent, Dr. Chris Clouet. “It’s never an easy project. I’ve been through it, some of you have also been through it. We put out an RFP and received a bid from a company called Milone and MacBroom.”

Principal Planner and Associate at Milone & MacBroom Rebecca Augur attended the Board of Education’s May 23 meeting to give a brief presentation and answer any questions about the process of conducting the study, before actually beginning the study.

Milone & MacBroom is a civil engineering and landscape architecture firm based in Cheshire with over 30 years of experience working with towns, governments, and developers. The firm has worked with over 20 districts in the last five years, according to Augur, including Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury school districts.

Dr. Clouet said the study will help to show the community what its options are in terms of addressing some schools being overcrowded while others have space for more students.

Augur explained that this six-seven month process will cost the district between $69,000-74,000 to complete. Dr. Clouet said the money for the study will be taken out of this year’s budget.

Regardless of the size of the system the studies and analyses are based on a solid background and understanding of the factors that influence enrollment in communities, Augur said.

“Those factors are typically demographic, housing and economy,” said Augur.

Milone & MacBroom work closely with Transportation Advisory Services (TAS), which specializes in student transportation consulting, the district’s planning and zoning commissions and community members. According to Augur, several interactive community workshops have already been proposed.

Timeline of the study

Augur said that her team plans to get to work as soon as possible, starting with analyzing housing demographic and economic patterns in early July.

“We would look at factors at the district level including historic housing development patterns, demographic patterns, trends in the housing market economic trends,” said Augur. “We would look at this data at a neighborhood level as well so you don’t find yourself in trouble in five years because something was going on unknowingly within a neighborhood such as housing developments, patterns or changes in enrollment in given areas, migration factors and try to understand where developments are likely to occur.”

Augur said her team will also dedicate time to understand district’s strategic plan and education objectives because they can also influence enrollment and enrollment projections.

“We will observe your specialized programs that might attract students from other districts,” said Augur before explaining what other data her team would provide.  

Augur explained that with the data that her team collects, they will create low, medium and high projections to test alternative plans for different ranges of enrollment.

“We will also visit elementary schools and develop figures that guage what a functional capacity is for each,” said Augur.

But first Augur’s team will need to learn how each building is specifically used in order to design a rough capacity figure. These projections will allow the district to “look backwards and forward,” according to Augur.

“The analysis that we’ve conducted to get to the enrollment projections show us how the district would’ve looked if your zones had been set like this for the past five years or five to 10 years from now.”