DURHAM — School board members are reviewing the results of a community survey, which concluded May 25, that asked residents how they feel about school building configurations options.
The Regional School District 13 Board of Education Utilization Committee opened the survey in April and presented the options April 25 at a community meeting. The utilization committee is tasked with efficient management of school district resources, including maximizing use of building spaces.
The original deadline for responses was May 5, and then was extended to May 25.
The committee met May 31 and discussed the survey’s next steps.
Why a survey
The school board created three building and grade configuration options to cut capital costs due to declining student enrollment, reduced state funding and a system of aging facilities, school board members said on April 25.
Survey-takers were asked to rank, in order of preference, the three options and answer six questions about what factors went into their ranking decisions, including how important to them was maintaining the Contemporary and Integrated Day programs, the eighth grade building location and cost savings.
Additionally they were asked their town of residence, number of children and children's’ current schools.
The survey was available online and in paper form. According to school district officials, 393 surveys were completed by May 25, 131 of which were mailed in.
Results are being tabulated currently, school board and utilization committee member Andrew Taylor said on May 31.
Another board and committee member Phil Augur said he and Taylor are working on a survey report, adding they hope to have a draft ready for the full school board meeting on Wednesday, June 13. The final survey report would be released upon the board’s approval.
Option A is a one-building track for all students. Brewster School would house pre-K-2, Memorial School grades 3-5, Strong School grades 6-8 and Coginchaug Regional High School grades 9-12. Under this plan, six classrooms or portables would be added to Brewster at a cost of $2 million. Estimated annual savings would be $925,000 starting in the 2020-21 school year, according to information provided by the school board.
Option B maintains two elementary schools. Brewster would house pre-K-4, Memorial K-4, Strong grades 5-7 and the eighth grade would move to CRHS, joining grades 9-12. Five classrooms or portables would be added to Brewster at a cost of $2 million. Estimated annual savings would be $925,000 starting in the 2020-21 school year.
Option C would maintain the current configuration. Capital improvements would be made to Lyman at a cost of $4 million. The plan offers no annual savings.
The committee also looked at an Option D, a write-in option, Taylor said.
The committee is still working on what information to present, and how to present it. Even at this early state of survey result tabulation, Taylor said Option B, which moved eighth grade to the high school, was not favored.
“It was pretty clear that there was a division between (Option) A, and kind of C-D, with very little people liking Option B,” he said.
Taylor said there were “good responses both from online, actually, and from paper responses.”
He added there were more responses from Durham than Middlefield, “but I would think right around the percentages you would expect within those towns, kind of reflective of the general population percentages.”
What the survey report would show
Augur said he wants to review what drove option choices, seeking a “narrative around what have the community members tried to say to us.”
The survey collected comments, and the committee discussed whether to display comments in full or summarize the comments, or both.
The survey report would include a summarization of survey choices, some general discussion on the six additional questions and an analysis of how those responses correlate with choices, to give an indication of why people chose each option.
Taylor said the committee anticipated an inexact number of survey takers, and for individuals to complete the survey more than once.
“We knew going into it, this wasn’t going to be a scientific,” Taylor said. “It’s more just to get a general feel for kind of what’s out there in the community.”