Windsor schools to be reconfigured next year

By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Jul. 1, 2011
The Oliver Ellsworth School will house preschool classes next fall. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.
The Oliver Ellsworth School will house preschool classes next fall. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.

Windsor’s school system will feature a bit of a new look soon, as grade configurations are currently being worked out and will go into effect in the fall of 2012.

The biggest feature of the reconfiguration in the schools is the offering of full-day kindergarten in the town - something that is becoming a growing trend in many towns both in Connecticut and Massachusetts, as the states continue to contend with the growing expectations of standardized testing, time on learning, and the No Child Left Behind Act passed by former president George W. Bush.

Full-day kindergarten was passed in March by the Windsor Board of Education by an 8-0 vote, with one member absent.

Poquonock Elementary School and Oliver Ellsworth School will be the sites of the new full-day kindergarten classes, as the reconfiguration will make two schools house the lower elementary grades. The other two schools will hold the upper elementary grades.

Poquonock School, located on Route 75, will be made into a kindergarten through second grade school. Oliver Ellsworth School will have a similar configuration, but will also feature the town’s only preschool-aged programs.

John F. Kennedy School, located in the southern section of Windsor, and the Clover Street School, located about 2 miles away, will both house grades three through five.

There are no changes planned for Sage Middle School or Windsor High School. The middle school includes grades six through eight, while the high school has grades nine through 12.

“There is a great excitement among Windsor parents about the decision to add full-day kindergarten,” said Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ernest Perlini.

The addition of preschool programs at the Ellsworth School will mean the closure of the Roger Wolcott Early Childhood Center.

Perlini estimates savings for the school district at approximately $325,000 to $425,000 just for the 2012-2013 school year. The savings can increase in the following years, he said, after logistics and transition to the various buildings have been completed. There are also startup costs associated with beginning a full-day kindergarten program, including staffing.

Because of declining enrollment numbers, only 71 percent of space at the four elementary schools is being utilized. A study was conducted by the BOE, which confirmed the declining numbers and a projection that the numbers will continue to decline.

The cost-saving move comes at a time with limited state aid available and uncertainty about more cuts in education spending in the next few years.

The Windsor Elementary Task Force was the committee that studied the consolidation concept. The group consisted of parents, teachers, administrators, community members and representation from the BOE. Several options for new grade configurations were presented, and the BOE went with the recommended option they approved.

A transition plan was presented at the June Board of Education meeting, and work will be getting underway over the next year to complete that plan. Full-day kindergarten will not be available this fall.

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