The reason this advisory committee was formed was to evaluate facility options for Cheshire Public Schools through 2020. Last year, there was talk about possibly closing Chapman School due to declining enrollment and potential for cost savings. The committee was tasked with researching three options:
- Facility Consolidation (i.e. school closure)
- Grade-Level Restructuring
- There are no immediate (near-term 2-3 years) adjustments to school configuration, grade structure, redistricting that would be recommended at this time.
- Closure of a facility is not an option in the near term.
- The enrollment trend for the study period is downward over 10 years.
- NESDC estimates for the next eight years project a drop of over 500 students (K-12) by the year 2018 compared to current enrollment.
- Enrollment is declining in the course of the decade. While the decline is significant at theelementary level over 8-10 years, it is not significant in the near term to consider closure of a facility or restructuring.
- The downward trend in enrollment does allow the opportunity to return elementary classsizes to pre-2008 levels and reverse a trend in increasing class size at many grade levels across the district.
- The 2020 Committee places high value on the instructional benefit of dedicated scienceclassrooms for instruction at the elementary level. While these rooms could be used as regular classrooms in a period of increasing enrollment, the rooms where not considered part of classroom inventory in the capacity analysis.
- In the next decade, balancing elementary school enrollment could be required through redistricting. However based on current student distribution it appears that this would require movement of multiple district lines, not just the line between two schools.
- Projected Middle School enrollment will not decline to a level that would allow an additional grade to be added to Dodd Middle School. There will be a modest amount of excess capacity at Dodd through the middle and latter part of the decade.
- There are no options presented for change to the Cheshire High School program as it relates to the recommendations in this report. The Board of Education will however have to consider the implementation of the recently enacted Connecticut School Reform Law (PA111) including increased graduation requirements and its potential impact on the facilities requirements of Cheshire High School.
- The committee did express the importance of technology in our schools and the need to provide an environment rich in opportunities for students to learn using current technology options available.
- The committee also acknowledges that the rapid pace of technological change may impact school facilities in the coming years. The committee however was not charged with, nor had the time, to fully weigh the impact of technology on the educational process and the requirements technology may have on school space needs.
- The 2020 Committee recommends that Cheshire Board of Education monitor and assess enrollment in the coming years as the steady decline could make some of the scenarios regarding restructure or closure of a facility educationally feasible and merit consideration.
- The most viable option for closure would be to relocate Darcey early intervention program and restore the kindergarten program to neighborhood schools. This would however require a capital investment for the movement of the EIC program.
Report is available in the budget library.