The Town Council will hear from school representatives Wednesday night about why, with declining enrollment, would they want to increase the footprint and grade distribution of the district by adding a wing to the middle school for sixth graders.
“The common core really drove the idea that we would like to reorganize,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Graner.
The school board requested $20,000 to hire an architect to determine the feasibility of a adding a new wing but the request was tabled at the last Town Council meeting and referred to the Permanent Municipal Building Committee. The study would determine if it’s possible to add to the middle school grounds and how much it would cost.
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Town Council Chairman Sean Sullivan did not support the request and cited declining school enrollment as a reason not to add to the middle school.
“To see declining student enrollment and then at the same time to see a project come forward that actually builds new footprint,” “Is that really what we need to be doing here.”
The curriculum for the common core state standards was adopted Connecticut Board of Education in July of 2010 and is due to be implemented by the spring of 2014 and the tests will replace the Connecticut Mastery Tests.
“This is a revolution,” said Graner of the new educational standards. “This is a significant reform.“
The national standards for early education have improved dramatically and kindergarten teachers are saying the expectations for their students cannot be taught in a half-day program, said Graner.
According to the new standards, kindergarteners will be required to read fluently, add and subtract, count to 100 by ones and tens, and construct viable arguments and critique the mathematical reasoning of others, for instance.
The curriculum is designed to be delivered by general education teachers for kindergarten through fifth grade students; by content certified teachers for sixth through eighth grade students and there’s separate high school curriculum for ninth through twelfth grades, according to Graner.
“That’s the big plan in the sky,” said Graner. “Sixth graders to the middle school so they can get content from certified content specialists, kindergarten children would come full-day.”
Graner said if the sixth graders are not moved to the middle school, elementary school teachers will have to take professional development courses in order to deliver the common core state standards curriculum.
Cathy Patterson, the assistant superintendent, said that Ledyard teachers will be prepared to teach the new education standards by the spring of 2014 but there’s a lot to do in the meantime.
“If we move the sixth graders out, we would have space for all day kindergarten,” said Graner. “Right now we just don’t have the space.”
Graner said that Ledyard schools are eligible for a 66 percent, or two-thirds percent reimbursement, for new school construction and the declining enrollment may enable the district to close an elementary school.
“I don’t want to overpromise this but I believe there will be significant savings if we close a school,” he said. “Overall, I think we would save such a significant amount that the cost to the town of the sixth grade wing would be negligible.”
Among finer details, a feasibility study would determine if a wing is possible and the best use of the space, how big it should be, how much it would cost to build and how much the town would have to bond.