No decision expected next week on creating one high school in Wallingford

No decision expected next week on creating one high school in Wallingford

WALLINGFORD — School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo has released a statement stating the Board of Education won’t vote this month on whether to consolidate the town’s two high schools.

Menzo said last month the school board would make a decision this month, however his Thursday statement changed his assessment of the situation.

He said that the board’s operations committee is scheduled to hear a presentation Monday on the potential for one high school from the state Bureau of Construction Services.

“At this meeting, this information will be shared with the Board of Education, and they will need to deliberate next steps,” he said. “But I do want to restate that no decision for one high school or two will be made this Monday or at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, June 21.”

On May 17, representatives of architectural firm Silver Petrucelli presented the results of a consolidation feasibility study to the operations committee, including conceptual plans for a new school on the Lyman Hall High School campus.

The board’s two subcommittees — operations and instructional — are made up of all board members and function as working groups, while votes are taken during regular meetings.

Autumn Allinson, operations committee chair, said Friday that the board does plan to discuss at Monday’s meeting asking the Town Council if the board can investigate its options with the state.

The state has changed its policy and the board doesn’t have to make a decision before asking for state funding, she said.

“Basically, it removes the need to make any decisions on the one high school or two right now,” she said. “We just have to ask the Town Council for their blessing to do some more research with the state on what the funding options would be, for either one.”

Allinson also said the board likely won’t make a decision until after the municipal election this fall. All board seats are up for re-election.

Menzo is slated to step down as superintendent at the end of the month.

Transparent process 

The school board is considering the long term future of Sheehan and Lyman Hall high schools, taking into consideration factors like declining enrollment, aging facilities and curriculum needs.

Although the board made some progress before the pandemic, response to COVID-19 pushed discussions to the back burner for more than a year.

Melanie DiCostanzo Rossacci, who has three children including a rising eighth-grader at Moran Middle School, has concerns about the impact of the pandemic.

“I worry this may be the worst time to do this,” she said via social media message to the Record-Journal Friday, “because we just don’t know what we don’t know about student needs post-pandemic. That needs to be assessed first and that will take time.”

She said she wants a “transparent and thoughtful” process, and that a vote on the move to one high school should be delayed until after a new superintendent is hired and board elections have occurred.

Because the board is still meeting remotely via Google Meet, there is no public comment during meetings, although board members share communications to them from the public.

She also said she would like to see data on chronic absenteeism across the district and the failure rate, broken down by grade level, race, gender and free and reduced lunch students, as well as how state and federal funds are being utilized.

“This data can give us a better idea of what the needs are,” she said.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

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