BERLIN – The configuration of Berlin schools may change in the future as the education board looks at a redistricting study.
“It’s very early on in the process,” said Superintendent David Erwin, Wednesday.
The study was brought up at a recent Board of Finance meeting during a discussion regarding school capital improvements. District Business Operations Director Eva Gallupe reported to the board that due to a shift in demographics redistricting may be neccesary.
Though nothing has been conducted as of yet, the board is currently reviewing three firms that have bid to perform the study.
“They can give us recommendations on how better to use our buildings,” Gallupe said.
The study will look at the demographics of the general population, as well as the school population and enrollment patterns.
Redistricting and possibly closing a school was discussed earlier this year when the Town Council requested a reduction in the education board’s proposed budget.
In March, the board members discussed the closing or reconfiguration of Hubbard Elementary School which has the least amount of students and has been seeing a steady decline in enrollment.
Hubbard has declined from 264 students in 2008 to 211 students as of October of this year. The other two elementary schools have seen steady declines but havehad an increase of 10 to 15 students from last year to this year.
In total, the district has had a decrease of over 400 students from 2008 to 2017 with a decline each year.
“It’s a difficult conversation to open, but one we need to at least entertain,” Matthew Tencza, board president, had said during the March meeting.
No decisions were made and a suggestion for a future third-party larger scale study was discussed.
Gallupe said Wednesday a decision on a vendor and funding options will be reviewed as early as next month.
“We’re trying to figure out a better way of doing things as well as ways to help save the town money,” she said.
Some recommendations could include creating an intermediate level school and/or early education using a current building. Reconfiguration of schools will also be reviewed.
Erwin said the study will only be initiated once funds are available through an existing account or proposed through a budget line item.
The cost of the study is estimated to be between $10,000 and $25,000.
“We would have to look at bus routes too,” Erwin said. “A study of this magnitude could put an array of options out to the Board of Education.”