MERIDEN — Thomas Edison Middle School officials recently notified parents that the Meriden Board of Education has not made any decisions about the school’s future and invited parents to a meeting next month.
Edison operator, Area Cooperative Educational Services or ACES, was responding to news that the Board of Education formed an ad hoc study committee to review projected middle school enrollment increases that city school officials say could impact the future of the 20-year-old inter-district magnet school, which is owned by the city.
In a letter, Thomas Edison Principal Karen Habbeger invited parents to a forum on Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. at the school.
Edison and ACES administrators will answer questions and provide information.
“We invite you to come hear the facts about Thomas Edison Magnet Middle School,” Habbegger said in her letter.
“How much does it really cost Meriden to educate your child, versus what it would cost them in town?” she wrote. “What makes our program cutting edge and different from Meriden’s offerings at the middle school level? How do (Edison’s) Smarter Balanced scores compare to Meriden’s and other districts? We will be happy to answer all questions regarding this topic.”
The Meriden Board of Education recently established the ad hoc committee to study an increase in middle school enrollment of 63 students in 2020 and another 65 in 2021.
Enrolled middle school students in Meriden are projected to climb to 2,247 in 2021, after which enrollment drops to 2,195 in 2021 and continues dropping through 2028, according to Meriden Public Schools.
Committee members include Board of Education President Robert Kosienski Jr., School Superintendent Mark Benigni, teachers’ union president Lauren Mancini-Averitt, administrators’ union president Lysette Torres, Lincoln Middle School Principal John Kuckel and Washington Middle School Principal Dan Corsetti.
‘Quality STEM option’
Meriden Public Schools sends 512 students to Edison for a concentration in science, technology, engineering and math education or STEM. The students are accepted by lottery.
The city of Middletown sends 80 students and Waterbury sends 79. Fewer numbers come from Wallingford, Berlin, New Britain, Cromwell, North Haven, Wethersfield, Middlefield, Portland, Torrington and Watertown, for a total of 699 students. The school can hold up to 800 students.
Parents of Edison students have notified staff of their concerns.
“I am a Middletown resident whose daughter attended TEMS & is currently a sophomore at @SCSU ~ I am so thankful she attended TEMS & I hope they keep this school open as I want my son to attend, “ a parent said on Twitter.
“It’s all about choice and it’s all about quality education for families,” said ACES spokeswoman Evelyn Rosetti-Ryan.“This is a quality STEM option for families.”
The city has renewed contracts with ACES to operate Edison as a magnet school since it opened in 2001. The most recent five-year contract expires in 2020, as does the state’s 20-year agreement with the city to operate Edison as a magnet school.
Teacher Brett Goldstein instructs his sixth-grade social studies class at Thomas Edison Middle School in Meriden, Fri., Dec. 20, 2019. | Dave Zajac, Record-Journal
Participating school districts pay $4,913 per student and the state pays $8,810 to cover the per-pupil cost of $13,723 to attend Edison. A tuition increase is expected next year. The per-pupil cost of tuition in city schools is $13,847 but can vary based on specialized programs.
Kosienski has said the city’s middle schools aren’t as well equipped to accommodate the high-tech curriculum school officials want to offer, but that the STEM program in city schools is superior to the Edison program.
While the city’s STEM curriculum is strong, it could be improved with better amenities, Kosienski said.
A review of state results on the Smarter Balanced Assessments for eighth graders in 2018-2019 showed Edison students with slightly better results in English/language arts and math than their peers at Washington and Lincoln middle schools.
“On the state accountability index, our middle schools have shown improvement and are now scoring similar to Edison,” Benigni said.
ACES officials hope to have more recent performance data available for the parent forum on Jan. 9.