Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2020 School Plan Begins to Come Together.

Over the last several years we have witnessed a steady growth in the student population of the Danbury Public Schools.

Determining growth of student population has been and will continue to be a tricky proposition. Demographers will tell you that they can only project out approximately three years with any certainty. Yet, school construction and building takes several years from the initial planning to execution. Assumptions that are valid in 2012, may not be valid in 2016.

There are a number of school construction projects that have been completed in surrounding communities costing millions of dollars in anticipation of student growth that never happened.

In this economic climate, we cannot afford to spend money that we don't have, yet, conversely, we cannot have a school system that is overwhelmed with students. It's a balancing act that must be managed if we are going to handle projected growth in a fiscally responsible manner.

Some consultants stated that we could handle the projected student growth with a straight redistricting. Some said that we would need a massive expansion program.

With that information, I asked our engineering department to review all of the work compiled by the consultants, assess every building, inventory every room, physically count all the children within our system, and then develop a blue print for each elementary building.

That blueprint should include a dedicated art and music room, a resource room, and various other special areas to ensure that all of the special areas are kept intact and to ensure that all Danbury Public School students have a similar experience.

Their findings indicate that we will have to do some redistricting, and that we will have to add additions to at least three of our elementary buildings to handle the influx of students that is projected for around 2015.

In addition, they recommend that we convert Mill Ridge Intermediate into a middle school to help balance the student population at Broadview and Rogers Park Middle Schools.

As we begin to conduct our due diligence on buildings that may be candidates for expansion, we will keep you informed.

Once all of our due diligence has been completed, we will then place on the November ballot a referendum question for the bond to pay for the expansion.

Educating our children is one of the most important responsibilities of our city government. It's important that we plan this right and do this right for our children..

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