WALLINGFORD — For now, the town will maintain its two-middle school status.
The Board of Education decided Monday night to no longer consider facility reconfiguring options that would consolidate Moran and Dag Hammarskjold middle schools.
The school board has been reviewing six options for middle and high school reconfiguration provided by consultants Milone & MacBroom, which were first presented to the board Nov. 5. A revised version was presented Dec. 10.
The school board voted Nov. 5 to eliminate option 1, which would maintain the status quo by addressing the capital needs of all schools with no changes to current programming. The option was reconsidered at subsequent meetings, however.
Options 2 and 3 would renovate the four schools to varying degrees.
Options 4, 5 and 6 would move all students through one middle school system, but in a unanimous vote Monday, the board eliminated from consideration options 4 and 5, and recreated option 6 to include one high school and two middle schools at a revised cost.
Roxane McKay, school board chairwoman, said Tuesday that narrowing down the options to four is a “reasonable place to be at this point.”
Whether the two high schools are also maintained or one town high school is created remains to be seen.
“The most vocal group of people are in favor of keeping a two-high-school community,” she said. “That’s what we’re hearing, that they’re looking to maintain two high schools.”
Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said Tuesday in a statement that the next steps for the school include reviewing option 3 with the consultants, which would renovate all four schools to create career pathway programming, sometime in January.
That review will help the consultants prepare financial estimates if the option were to be split into maintaining both high schools with current programming and maintaining both high schools with identical programming, he said.
Once the options are narrowed down, he said, a survey from the consultants will be distributed to allow more public input, the results of which will be shared with the Town Council.
He added that no changes would occur for about five years, following a second study, finalized plans, Town Council approval and state authorization.
McKay said that she liked hearing from students Monday night.
“What I’m seeing is, some teachers are taking advantage in our classrooms at the high school,” she said, “and engaging our students in dialogue and thoughtful conversation about what they would want for their own schools.”
She said that it’s a “very powerful thing” to hear from students.
“It’s a good educational experience, but it’s also a lesson in local politics,” she said. “Those are two really important takeaways for our students, and our parents, too.”
Menzo also praised the student speakers.
“I am sure everyone would agree,” he said in a statement, “that the students who have spoken have demonstrated incredible maturity, sincerity and passion. It is a credit to themselves, their families and their teachers.”
According to information from the consultants released through the school district, current annual operating costs for all four schools total $54.9 million.
Estimated annual operating costs for one high school and one middle school with central office staff relocating to a consolidated school would save about $4 million.
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