Southington BOE puts Winchester Estates in Kelley School zone

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SOUTHINGTON — The Board of Education officially placed a new housing development on Churchill Street into the Kelley School district Thursday.

Winchester Estates, a 34-house development around 243 Churchill St. headed by Lovley Development, was officially designated to Kelley Elementary School after concerns were raised about potentially overcrowding other schools. 

The capacity of the elementary schools has been a pressing issue for the Southington district for some time.

The board has had to make pocket districts for children who would have otherwise gone to a closer school since some schools are already at student capacity. 

Most families on Churchill Street attend Thalberg Elementary, but the school currently has no more room to accept students. Superintendent Steven Madancy made the recommendation to transfer Winchester Estates over to Kelley due to its proximity and ease of access for buses over Thalberg.

“The challenge we have is that Thalberg Elementary School is at capacity and has been to the point where the last major development in Southington, which was off of Loper Street, we did a pocket designation to Flanders,” Madancy said during the meeting. “There’s all the reason in the world to believe this development would land in the Kelley school district anyways.”

Although the board approved the motion, several members expressed their reservations about doing so without greater consideration of the layout of the district overall.

There is discussion of a major redistricting of the Southington schools in the next couple years, coinciding with the board’s intention to reassess the elementary schools to see what the needs of the district are — whether that be building a new school and shutting down others to consolidate. 

There are no firm plans in place for what the board intends to do, but it’s expected that there will be more serious consideration given to redistricting next year to solve the pocketing that’s occurred to navigate around capacity concerns.

The longer they hold off on the discussion of redistricting, board members say, the more drawn-out the process will become in the long term. 

“We’ve got pockets, we’ve been trying to patch it, and it’s getting to the point now where it’s going to be very cumbersome,” board member David Derynoski said. 

Madancy was in agreement. “What’s happened with a lot of the pocket districting that occurred over the years is the extra transportation costs that go with it,” he said, “because the routes don’t necessarily align with the feeder schools the students are attending.”

The board wants to engage the community in the conversations on redistricting, though there remains no firm timeline when they’ll occur.

“We need to engage the community and have an overall thought process and planning into how we’re going to redistrict overall,” board member Sean Carson said. “Bigger picture, we need to realign everything.”

Other overarching district projects will also be carried into the next year as well, such as an itemized cost assessment of the sports facilities improvements for Southington High School - which administrators are seeking to complete despite being unable to secure full funding in the November referendum. 

The board also approved items for the curriculum going into the next year, and were given a report from the school resource officers on the number of reported incidents across the district. 

Officers reported that the number of violent incidents had fallen from the previous year’s report, but reported incidents overall were up.

A majority of them pertained to vaping/cannabis reports, medical issues, motor vehicle incidents, and other general complaints.

The Board of Education Elementary Facilities meeting will be held virtually next Monday and will mark the last meeting of the board until Jan. 12 next year. 


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