Published May 14. 2014 4:00AM
Norwich — A clinical day special education high school on Case Street will close after this school year, and the Deborah Tennant-Zinewicz School building that housed the program will be converted into a Family Resource Center for preschool classes.
Superintendent Abby Dolliver told the Board of Education Tuesday that students who had expected to be enrolled in clinical day high school programs next school year will instead attend other programs run by Natchaug Hospital, which now operates the DTZ School. Natchaug operates one program at the site of the William W. Backus Hospital business center in the Norwich Business Park.
About 28 students are enrolled at DTZ this year, but Dolliver said attendance fluctuates.
The changes mean that the June 16 DTZ School graduation ceremony will be the school's final graduation. The school opened in 2001 as an effort to save money on out-of-district high school special education placements. But Dolliver said enrollment has declined in recent years to the point where placing students in other Natchaug programs would not add costs to the city.
Three Family Resource Center classrooms - one each at the Wequonnoc, John B. Stanton and Bishop Early Learning Center schools - will be moved to the Case Street school building, freeing up much-needed space in those buildings.
Dolliver said the space at Stanton will be used for a full-day kindergarten class, a special education preschool program will be added at Bishop, and Wequonnoc will use its added space for a full-time art classroom and a full-time music room. The school is converting into a performing arts magnet school next school year.
Norwich consistently has about 100 preschool students on a waiting list, and the city has applied for new state funding recently announced by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for additional preschool slots in needy districts statewide. Norwich school officials hope to learn the status of the grant request by the end of June.
Consolidating three Family Resource Center classes under one roof could save some money, but no staffing cuts are anticipated, Dolliver said.
Dolliver said the school system will continue to run a clinical day program for elementary age students at the Hickory Street School in Greeneville.