Groton sets March 31 for meeting on future of schools

Groton - The Groton Board of Education decided Monday to meet on March 31 to begin the process of determining how the public schools will look in the future.

The board made the decision after hearing from consultant Mike Zuba, representing the School Facilities Task Force. The task force was formed in February 2013 to come up with a plan for school construction, which would then be voted on by the board and eventually taken to voters at referendum.

But the group stopped meeting in September because it needed more direction from the school board, Zuba said. The task force was waiting for a "vision statement" from the board and "educational specifications," a legal document provided to the state that specifies details such as whether schools should have an auditorium and what kind of science labs they should have.

"It's six months later and we don't have that statement," Zuba said.

Board member Kim Watson said task force members "have been waiting and they're pretty frustrated."

Zuba said the board had to decide, for example, whether it wanted pre-kindergarten in its elementary schools, whether it wanted one middle school or two, and whether the middle schools should include grades 5 through 8, grades 6 through 8, or grades 7 and 8.

School Board Chairwoman Rita Volkmann said the board didn't receive any information from the task force, nor any of the PowerPoint presentations. Board member Andrea Ackerman said: "What I expected to see tonight was a presentation" of the options.

Zuba replied that the information all was available online, and had been posted on the public schools' website.

He said he would provide documents to individual board members, but more than a dozen meetings could not be summarized in a short time.

The board is expected to meet at 6 p.m. on March 31 in the school administration office, and to bring in a facilitator to help determine the process for making decisions. First, the board or a larger committee would decide how grades should be configured. Next, separate committees would determine what elementary schools should include and what middle schools should include.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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