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December 29. 2013 6:58PM

Newfound district schools will stay as they are for now

BRISTOL — The Newfound Area School District can stay as it is without realigning the district in the immediate future, according to school officials.

In recent years, questions have come up in district towns about realigning the school district to improve classroom experiences in the face of declining enrollments. Parents in Bridgewater, for instance, wondered if the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School could be reconfigured to a kindergarten-Grade 8, or a K-Grade 6.

In late 2012, the school board commissioned a seven-month study into to consider a K-8 for the whole district, "mostly to see if it would have improved student outcomes," said School Board Chairman Vincent Paul Migliore.

When Superintendent Stacy Buckley took over on July 1, it was decided to turn the question over to her.

Buckley looked at the seven-town district and the capacity of its six schools. Among the possibilities she looked at would be converting all district elementary schools to K-8s, K-6s, or returning to a K-4, 5-8 and 9-12 structure districtwide.

She also looked at a complete reconfiguration of the district that would group all pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students together at the Danbury Elementary School, put Grades 1-3 at Bristol Elementary School, and Grades 4-5 at the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School, with the upper classes remaining as they are.

Buckley suggested that any of the scenarios could be studied further, and she recommended the formation of a facilities committee to look at usage and maintenance issues at district buildings.

Migliore said Buckley has suggested her time might be better spent aligning curriculum at district schools. The district will continue to monitor enrollments, he said, but things will stay as they are for now.

"The building challenges make it difficult to do K-8 throughout the district, in spite of any advantages, which remain debatable. Middle school advocates disagree that K-8 is a better model," Migliore said.

"Eventually, if student populations diminish to a level that would make consolidation prudent for both the students, staff and taxpayers, we would take appropriate action. Right now, no one knows how much lower than the approximately 1,200 students we have now (in the district) would dictate such action."

dseufert@newstote.com


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