Consulting firm provides progress report on East Lyme redistricting study

East Lyme — The consulting firm studying redistricting the town’s elementary schools is slated to develop maps by early January that will show potential scenarios for redrawing elementary school boundaries.

Milone & MacBroom provided the school board on Tuesday with a progress update on a study that is considering the community's demographics, birth rate and housing trends, student enrollment projections, and criteria identified by the board to develop potential redistricting options. The school board approved hiring Milone & MacBroom in August to conduct the study for $25,000, which includes workshops and community forums.

Mike Zuba of Milone & MacBroom said he expects to return to the school board in November to present final student enrollment projections and finalize the redistricting criteria that he has asked the school board to rank. He said he would then come back in January with maps showing different possible redistricting scenarios.

The school board then plans to evaluate the options to determine what option best fits the criteria, seek public comment at community forums, and further discuss the options, said Board of Education Chairman Tim Hagen.

With construction on the town's elementary schools to take place next year, Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Newton said the school district is tentatively looking at redistricting for the 2019-2020 school year.

On Tuesday, Zuba presented preliminary demographics, housing trends and birth trends for the town that Milone & MacBroom has collected so far.

Some of the preliminary findings include that about two-thirds of the town's population lives in Niantic and neighborhoods south of I-95, with the largest clusters of housing sales from 2012-2016 occurring in Niantic, Giant's Neck and Black Point, and residential areas adjacent to Route 161. 

Zuba presented overall population trends, including that the town's median age rose from 39 in 2000 to 46 in 2015.

He added the caveat that the 2015 data from the American Community Survey shows broad trends, but is less precise than U.S. Census data from 2000 and 2010.

The number of homeowners age 65 and older also grew, from 1,170 in 2000 to 2,356 in 2015, according to the presentation.

But he said the younger Electric Boat workforce is moving into town and home prices are rebounding, and there is pent-up demand due to individuals who held on to their homes throughout the recession.

The older homeowners are concentrated in the southern end of town, according to the presentation.

Zuba said he will use the Oct. 1 student enrollment numbers and additional data to generate enrollment projections and begin developing redistricting scenarios. The final information will also include additional population data from the Department of Transportation. 


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