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If Asked, Ledyard Ready To Welcome Wheeler High School Students

'Cooperation' Could Mean More State Funds, Science And Technology Wing

As North Stonington considers how best to provide secondary education to its children, Ledyard Superintendent Michael Graner says his district is ready, willing, and able to accommodate North Stonington’s students, should they decide to send them this way. 

North Stonington commissioned a study, carried out by the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), to see what cost savings and other benefits might be realized by closing Wheeler High School and sending its students to a school district within a 25-mile radius of the town. 

Of the towns surveyed, Waterford and East Lyme have indicated they could not accept North Stonington students. Groton, New London, Montville, and Stonington have asked for additional time to mull over the proposal, and Norwich Free Academy, Griswold, and Ledyard have said they could accommodate the students. 

“Ledyard and the Ledyard board of education are very welcoming to the proposal,” said Graner. “We think it could be mutually beneficial.” But, he added, whether or not to close Wheeler High School is “fundamentally a very important question that North Stonington residents need to answer for themselves.” 

North Stonington would pay Ledyard some $10,000 in tuition per student. Wheeler High School, the smallest high school in the state, now has 226 students.  Ledyard High School’s current enrollment is around 900 students, although historically it has had as many as 1300 students, Graner said. As a larger school, Ledyard has a wider range of offerings than North Stonington can provide, he said, from academic courses to extracurricular activities. 

“We have the room, we have the programs, and we might be able to do this at a savings to North Stonington,” he said. 

What’s in it for Ledyard? 

Accepting 226 additional students would mean more for Ledyard than just hiring more staff and ordering more books, Graner said. When one school accepts students from another district, it becomes a “cooperative school” under state law, and the state contributes ten percent more for building projects. 

The state now pays 65 percent of Ledyard’s building project costs, but would pay 75 percent if North Stonington students also attended. This could mean “a real opportunity to expand Ledyard High School, enhance the buildings and grounds, and add a science and technology wing,” Graner said. 

While clearly excited about the potential opportunities for Ledyard, Graner is circumspect about the possibility of North Stonington losing its high school. “Wheeler High School has been in existence for a very long time,” he said. “It’s certainly something to consider. How does this go in terms of finances? How do the people go about deciding the merit of the idea?” 

Still Early in the Process 

According to North Stonington Superintendent Natalie Pukas, any decision on the issue is far from imminent. CREC’s final report, originally scheduled to be released this week, will not be completed until all eligible towns have responded to the survey. 

Stonington Superintendent Leanne Masterjoseph said Tuesday that the survey questions and preliminary answers will be presented to and discussed by the Stonington Board of Education in August or September. Groton, Montville, and New London have also requested additional time. 

Once the full CREC report has been presented to the Board of Education, the board will make a recommendation to the town and the issue will go to a town-wide vote. “This will ultimately be decided by the residents of the town of North Stonington,” Pukas said. 

Until then, Ledyard stands ready.

Myron LeAnna July 15, 2011 at 10:46 AM
The town does not need any more debt to build or add on to the high school just to satisy the egos of the overpaid and over benefited educators. Test scores are down from my generation but the costs have skyrocketed. Time to hold them accountable, but that never happens with our so called PUBLIC SERVANTS, they have become our masters.
fvajdos July 15, 2011 at 11:45 AM
I don't really understand Myron LeAnna's comment. The article nowhere mentions going into debt, and how does this proposal "satisfy the egos of the overpaid and over benefited educators"? As a parent of kids in the Ledyard schools, I am impressed with the passion and dedication of the teachers and administrators. Do they always get it perfectly right? No, but their persistence in the face of criticism such as Myron's is admirable. As for the proposal, I think it should be evaluated on its merits, and if it is mutually beneficial for NS and Ledyard, then it should be seriously considered. Time to leave the rants at home...
Denise July 15, 2011 at 12:16 PM
Very well said fvajdos, as I was writing you took the word right out of my mouth!!! I also have children in the Ledyard schools, I have absolutely not seen anything but care and concern for the students of Ledyard. I am very proud of our BOE,their compassion and dedication is just over flowing for our students!!! As a town resident that attends the BOE meeting at times throughout the year I encourage Myron LeAnna to attend a few meetings and you will see the depth of care many of us see!
CJ Redd July 15, 2011 at 01:06 PM
My son was accepted into the AgScience program at Ledyard High School last year. As a family that lives outside Leyard school district boundaries we feel blessed to be able to send our son to LHS. He is receiving an excellent education from highly qualified and caring teachers and staff - what more could a parent or student ask for? Additional students would bring in extra revenue per student as well as making the school district eligible for additional funds from the state - I don't see any downsides there. Dr. Graner points out that current enrollment is lower than historical enrollment so should this option prevail, overcrowding should not be a significant concern for students, parents or staff. There are undoubtedly many valid issues and concerns that will arise should this option be seriously studied and implemented but I am confident that the school district will be able to address these and continue to educate and prepare our youth (inside or outside of Ledyard) for their future.
Doreen Wesche-Soldato July 15, 2011 at 08:00 PM
I agree that Ledyard would be a great alternative for North Stonington students, and they would receive a very good education here. I am not sure it will happen however, if it is not very much of a savings to the residents of North Stonington to pay Ledyard tuition and also pay to have the kids bused here. That is something they will have to decide. As others have said, I do not understand Myron's comments, they are out of context and do not make any sense here.
Sharon Pealer July 16, 2011 at 07:25 PM
The state now pays 65 percent of Ledyard’s building project costs, but would pay 75 percent if North Stonington students also attended. This could mean “a real opportunity to expand Ledyard High School, enhance the buildings and grounds, and add a science and technology wing,” Graner said Perhaps if people took the time like Myron did they might have read the entire article. Why would there be discussion of building costs covered by the state if the issue were not in question or at least in the mind of the superintendent?
Sharon Pealer July 16, 2011 at 07:43 PM
I am dismayed that so very many people took the time to chastise Myron without reading and understanding the implication of a portion of this article. That said, I too have children educated in Ledyard and do think the opportunity to help out North Stonington is a good one. I do have concerns though. Many classes have been cut the past few years and that affects the availability of choice for students already in the school system. We have yet to see how the change to the new schedule and the lunch wave will affect the student body. Will adding students in this proportion help ease the changes? My last child will graduate from the system in two years and any direct changes should not affect us, however I am concerned about how this could affect the Capt test scores and our effort to bring the ten percent that are still struggling to achieve mastery of the subject areas while melding school districts together.
Doreen Wesche-Soldato July 16, 2011 at 11:14 PM
I did read the entire article Sharon, thank you. Ledyard High School, as stated, is not at capacity. Also, as stated, the students being added would not be getting a free ride. When I was a student at LHS there were more students, our CAPT scores were above expectations, and faculty kept up with the demand. They have of course done it before, and could very well do it again. Nowhere does it say in the article that the town plans on going into debt because of this anytime soon. I agree that every aspect of this proposal needs to be studied on both sides before anything is finalized. I would be very surprised if Wheeler closes anyway, actually. Myron's comments did not refer back to anything in the article, and without reference appear to be incoherent. That's why the post was easy for many to take out of context.
Sharon Pealer July 16, 2011 at 11:31 PM
Okay Doreen, perhaps you did read the entire article, but I fail to see how Myron's comment could in any way be considered as being out of context when even the lead in to the story states "Cooperation' Could Mean More State Funds, Science And Technology Wing". I have no bone to pick with the education my children have received at the High School, but as I said I still have one child at the school and there are new changes being introduced that will prove challenging at best. I simply do not feel that it is an opportune time to be looking forward to even more challenges than already planned. By the way, the town is already a great deal in debt and three new bond issues were approved just last week. Those new bond issues are future taxes that will have to be paid by the residents.

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