BERLIN - The school district is studying the feasibility of reconfiguring its three elementary schools.
The Board of Education voted on March 12 to enter into an agreement with Drummey Rosane Anderson Inc., of South Windsor for a fee of $32,500 to conduct the study.
The study will look at ways to find efficiencies in staffing, curriculum programming and any other aspect of the three elementary schools, whether it be reducing the use of one building, building an addition another or some other change, School Superintendent Brian Benigini said.
The school board had discussed merging Hubbard elementary school with the other two for the 2016-17 year - its enrollment was just over 200 students last year, with the others at just under 500, and the district was facing steep budget cuts.
But, absent a study of the overall impact, which would have altered transportation routes and more, school officials said, they halted any action.
With looming state aid cuts to the school district appearing to continue to come though, the board decided it wanted to conduct the study as a way to prepare itself should any major changes need to happen to save money.
Tim Oakes, chairman of the education resources subcommittee, which reviewed and interviewed the six firms that submitted proposals with Benigni and the Director of Business Operations Eva Gallupe, said the other proposals were more focused on the actual buildings, not enrollment alignment.
“When they heard ‘feasibility study,’ it was what can we do to optimize the use of these facilities, as opposed to remodel or upgrade,” said Oakes of Drummey.
He, Beningi and Gallupe added the firm would be open to any public hearing and willing to answer any questions about the study. The firm has done previous studies in towns including South Windsor, Clinton and Bristol.
One study failed in Manchester, Benigni said, but that was because the town wasn’t ready to accept the redistricting, so only portions of the plan were used, the firm told him.
“They certainly didn’t come out as the cheapest, but as Brian said, it hits everything that I think we’ve talked about looking for,” said Oakes.
Board member Julia Dennis said she would’ve liked to have had another meeting with all the data presented before making a decision on the firm. Hers was the only objection to choosing the firm.
Board member Julia Miller said she trusted the committee to vet the companies.
According to the proposal from Drummey Rosane Anderson, the final draft of the study should be ready by June.
Benigni said if there are any quick changes that could be implimented for next year, they may be acted upon, but any major change wouldn’t occur until at least the 2019-20 school year,.
Funds for the study were allocated from unspent money at the end of the year and savings from teacher retirements during the year, Gallupe said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or email@example.com.