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MIDDLEFIELD — The Regional School District 13 Board of Education plans to close John Lyman School, citing fewer students, less state aid, and an outdated facility
The school board voted Monday to approve a plan that would close Lyman and move the district toward a four-school configuration: an elementary school for kindergarten through second grade, another elementary school for third to fifth grade, and middle and high schools.
Lyman, a K-4 elementary school, houses the Integrated Day program and maintains a Higher Order Thinking designation. The ID program mixes classrooms, combining the first and second and the third and fourth grades.
Lyman PTA member Jenna Driscoll, who has one child at John Lyman currently and others in the district, said Tuesday the decision was “shocking.”
She said she felt the school board rushed into a vote Monday without enough community input. Although the board floated the idea of a mailed survey presenting the options available, the idea didn’t make it out of the discussion phase.
“It seems like they leaped over that crucial step,” Driscoll said, since not everyone can attend meetings and give their opinions to the board.
She and other parents sent letters and addressed the board at meetings, she said, but felt their pleas for more time and consideration were ignored.
School board member Bob Yamartino, who’s also on the Middlefield Board of Selectmen, said the plan is a response to declining enrollment and state cuts to education funding.
“Any time a school is closed, there will be savings in staff, administration, capital, maintenance and transportation,” Yamartino said Tuesday via email. “These savings, although not yet fully enumerated at this time, will accrue to both towns.”
Driscoll said she understands the financial arguments for closing Lyman.
“It’s daunting, the amount of (state) aid that has been cut,” she said. “But when you choose to turn a district upside down, you need more thoughtful planning.”
She added that many parents are not opposed to change.
“I think people could come to understand,” she said, “if our elementary programs were maintained in a designed way. That did not happen.”
Yamartino said a school closing is an opportunity to review and improve education programming.
Superintendent Kathryn Veronesi has been spearheading a process called strategic visioning, addressing declining enrollment and state funding cuts.
“We can’t and won’t allow this to negatively impact our students’ education,” he said. “The decision is not yet final.”
The school board is scheduled to meet 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Coginchaug Regional High School library.