Ledyard school board approves redistricting plan

Ledyard — Families with elementary-age students in the middle of town got some closure Wednesday night as the Board of Education voted to approve a redistricting plan presented last month by engineering consulting firm Milone and MacBroom.

The plan reallocates students who would have attended Ledyard Center School in the fall. The elementary school is closing at the end of the school year, and the Town Council voted last week to recommend sale of the school to a developer for $500,000. A public hearing and town meeting on the sale will be held in May.

The board unanimously approved a plan that would split the town roughly down the Route 117 corridor. Students west of Route 117 would attend Gales Ferry and Juliet W. Long schools, and students east would attend Gallup Hill School, which is nearing completion on its renovation project. In addition to the 70 pre-kindergarten students already reassigned to Gallup Hill, this plan reassigns about 55 students to Gales Ferry and 209 to Gallup Hill, putting the schools at 88 and 82 percent capacity, respectively.

Another proposed option would have reassigned all 264 students slated to attend Ledyard Center to Gallup Hill, putting its capacity at 88 percent.

In both plans, no students outside of Ledyard Center were reassigned, other than the pre-kindergarten classes already budgeted to move to Gallup Hill. All sixth-graders will attend the newly expanded Ledyard Middle School in the fall.

Mike Zuba of Milone and MacBroom presented the two options developed by the firm, detailing how both historical and projection data for the district and individual schools were utilized. He noted a projected enrollment increase of about 4 percent over the next five years, especially at the elementary and high school levels, as well as incoming housing developments that could bring in about 79 students.

Zuba also noted that the firm tried to develop plans that effectively utilized the school spaces, followed natural and manmade boundaries in town and minimized disruptions such as breaking up existing neighborhoods and extended bus times.

Families with seniors, however, will have to wait until the April 10 meeting for a vote on this year's graduation date. Several families have spoken at the last few Board of Education meetings, lamenting last year's decision to delay setting a graduation date until after all potential snow days have passed. Many cited their out-of-town relatives attending graduation, who have to book flights and hotels in advance, as well as other family and vacation plans.

Board member Stephanie Calhoun, who has a senior at the high school, explained that due to Connecticut statutes, the board would be restricted to picking a date after the 185th day of school (June 21) if they decided before April 1. However, if they waited until after April 1, they would be allowed to pick any date after the 180th day of school (June 14). Waiting until the April meeting then would allow them more flexibility in setting the date, she said.

The board also voted to approve the 2019-20 calendar Wednesday, which again includes the open graduation date as another trial run.

a.hutchinson@theday.com

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