Possible School Closure in Newtown, CT? As early as next year????

Our understanding is that the Board of Education Chairperson raised questions about the possibility of closing an elementary school, specifically Head O’ Meadow, at the September BOE meeting.

Dear all Newtown Families,
Our understanding is that the Board of Education Chairperson raised questions about the possibility of closing an elementary school, specifically Head O’ Meadow, at the September BOE meeting.  A study was requested to see if it’s possible to move forward.  While this only mentions Head O' Meadow, please understand that this will impact all elementary schools as they would need to send these students across town to other elementary schools.  Who benefits here?  Please attend the Board of Education meting on Tuesday (10/2) and show your support for all of these Newtown families.  Let them know that this is unacceptable.

The study is on the Agenda for the BOE Meeting on Tuesday, October 2nd.  Public participation on the topic will be held at the beginning of the meeting and the end of the meeting as outlined below.

Board of Education Meeting * October 2, 2012 * 3 Primrose Street * 7:30 p.m.
REVISED October 1, 2012
·         Donation to Newtown Middle School
·         Personnel Item(s)
·         Correspondence
·         Chair Report
·         Superintendent’s Report
·         Current Budget Report
·         Report Requested by Board on Reed School Schedule
·         Transportation Update
·         Discussion and Possible Action on Process of School Facilities Study
·         Approve Minutes of September 18, 2012
·         Discussion and Possible Action on Board of Education Budget Goals
·         Mandates on State Waiver
·         Possible Early Retirement Package
·         Possible Litigation

*BOE Public Participation Rules: During Public Participation, the Board welcomes commentary from citizens regarding agenda items. We request that speakers be concise and respectful in their comments, do not make reference to specific persons, avoid repetition of comments made by other speakers and limit comments to no more than three minutes. The first Public Participation will be confined to agenda items only. The second Public Participation will be for agenda items as well as issues the public wishes the Board to consider in the future. The Board of Education does not discuss personnel items in public. If you desire more information or answers to specific questions, please complete the Citizen’s Request for Information form located on the table.

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Dawne Kornhaas October 02, 2012 at 02:45 PM
It seems the only reason to shut down HOM (even Reed was mentioned at one point) is because to repurpose a building those 2 are ADA compliant. To me this seems like another band aid solution to a problem that is temporary of declining enrollment. This has been said before but why not close the Middle School, move 8th grade to the high school since we built so many additions in the last 15 years there to accomodate. Move the 7th grade to Reed and the 5th grade to elementary? Then repurpose the Middle School to be ADA compliant. I know it cost a little more money but it makes the most logical sense. i mean at some point that building is or already needs a lot of work. We can't let that building deteriorate like FFH.
Dawne Kornhaas October 02, 2012 at 02:45 PM
This would also sadden me because Barbara Gasparine has done a wonderful job of bringing positive changes to the school.
Les October 02, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Hawley should be closed as it is the oldest building and needs so much work.
Karen Beers Roszman October 02, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Parents and other concerned residents, please come to the meeting tonight to let the board know that closing Head O' Meadow and displacing all these young students (whether it be for a year or until enrollment is back up) is not an acceptable answer to the budget issues. Power in numbers folks--even if you don't choose to speak, attend the meeting to show your support to keep HOM OPEN!!!
Po Murray October 02, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Everyone must read the Planemtric Buildout Study. http://www.independentpartyofnewtown.com/doc_library/planemetrics-buildout-study/Planimetrics%20%20%20REPORT%2020080625%203.pdf By 2030, Newtown could add another 2535 housing units. We will need these schools and these schools must be updated. Newtown has a habit of making short term decisions all the time. It will cost us more in the long run. I urge all the parents of young children to form a coalition to fight for long term planning and stand up for quality education in Newtown. I am sure most of you moved here for the Blue Ribbon schools. There has been an attempt by the Republican-led boards to dismantle the solid foundation of the Newtown School System. They have cut over $10MM from the. BOE budget requests in the last ten years and they have delayed and delayed school improvement capital projects. Meanwhile they are beefing up their rainy day account and spending millions on their pet projects. Some of these board members have been on the town boards forever and they are anti-education. We fought and fought for years for them to properly address the HS overcrowding. They were more interested in building a new town hall. Their behavior is exactly the same-No long term planning, anti-schools & pro-rainy day fund.
Big Family October 02, 2012 at 07:49 PM
There must be a reason that Hawley School is not the first choice if a school needs to be closed, does anyone know? Hawley being the money pit that it is absolutely should be the school to close.
Po Murray October 02, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I meant 2435 housing units. We currently have 9669 housing units. If each of these housing units had one child, we would need to build another school in the future. Also the empty nesting homes in my neighborhood are being filled with young parents with small children.
Big Family October 02, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Po, In your opinion, what should the school budget be right now?
Russ October 02, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I'm fired up enough about this that I'm tempted to write a letter to the BofE. The idea of closing any school other than Hawley is insulting, especially when we keep hearing about how another $8M is going to be thrown at Hawley (why are we closing a school in the first place - to save money right?). The BofE needs to understand that you have to give people a reason to vote for the education budget. For example, moving from the OO's to All Star just pissed off a lot of those people who would ordinarily vote for the budget. Closing HOM and spending big bucks on fixing up Hawley would cause a taxpayer revolt to the extent that I don't think Newtown would be able to pass any budget.
Russ October 02, 2012 at 08:14 PM
The reasoning is ludicrous, but it goes something like this. If they close Hawley, then they have to make it ADA compliant to ever use it again as a school, which would cost a lot of money. On the other hand, to keep it open they need to spend a lot of money to fix all of its problems. So it seems they just want to spend the money now, close a good school, and then in 10 to 15 years they can reopen the good school that's been idling for years and not have to spend money to reopen Hawley.
yoda October 02, 2012 at 08:30 PM
If a school is closed it would have to be used for a different purpose, HOM would be a perfect set up for a Senior citizen center, Assistant living, etc. Hawley School is no user friendly.
yoda October 02, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Does it matter where a child is tought? Can a great teacher, teach anywhere? It all comes down to money, which in these hard economic times, money is very hard to come by.
Big Family October 02, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Move Town Hall to the Hawley School, then we will have a brand new very user friendly space at Fair Field Hills making the town money.
Po Murray October 03, 2012 at 02:30 AM
It is my understanding that if we do not use Hawley as a school, the building will be turned over to Yale. Could anyone confirm this?
Karen H October 03, 2012 at 03:23 AM
I attended tonight's meeting, as a Sandy Hook School parent, because ultimately this will impact ALL elementary school parents. It was decided that a Request for Proposal would be put out for interested consultants to provide an estimate of work that would include enrollment updates, facilities use study, etc keeping in mind that this decision is not based on money alone. By getting an estimate in the near future, this will then become a budget item. I suggest that all parents get involved now. Closing a school, redistricting or whatever suggestion the consultants provide (in 18 to 24 months time) will impact us all.
NewtownResident October 03, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Last I heard, it would be difficult to close the middle school because of the roof repairs. Our superintendent got a loan to redo the roofs on the building, however, that loan would fall through if she were to close the school so soon.
Sam Mihailoff October 03, 2012 at 03:51 AM
more studies, more consultants, more WASTED MONEY
Bri1314 October 03, 2012 at 06:48 AM
Consultants must lick their chops when they hear the word Newtown. Wasting money to find out what everyone already knows - what a bad idea it is to close a school in order to open, what, a senior center no one will use or for some other unnecessary function. If we need more municipal space, find it in either the new town hall we HAD to have or the old town hall. Glad we live in a town with such deep pockets that we can keep consultants throughout he land in business.
Sam Mihailoff October 03, 2012 at 07:20 AM
Big Family, there aren't that many zeros...what a multi-talented individual; now she's an urban planner also! INCREDIBLE...
Dawne Kornhaas October 03, 2012 at 09:49 AM
NewtownResident, the roof at the Middle School has already been repaired. It was repaired over a year ago.
Kinga Walsh October 03, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Couldn't attend the meeting and plan to watch the video but in the immediate short term, can anyone explain the rationale (the WHY) behind investigating an elementary school closing immediately after the facilities sub-committee recommended of all the schools in the district, Reed be closed? And wasn't this study just completed and the reco outlined in the spring? Understand the enrollment numbers but these were specifically addressed by the subcommittee too and it was stated that a reevaluation of enrollment and the recommendation be done in 2015. I believe it was also stated (paraphrasing here) that the current elementary enrollment can not fit into the three buildings even next school year (ie 2013-14) and hence the 2015 reevaluation was supported. It seems (IMO) that the subcommittee recommendations were not agreed with and alternative ideas are now being persued despite all the work that went into the subcommittee's decision. And did the town sell the portables that were at the HS? If so, aren't these type of units needed for an elementary closure to accommodate for the additional students' space needs? And what about just redistricting vs closing? Also regarding the ADA issues at Hawley, if the building closes and reopens in any capacity, these issues will have to be fixed. Right now, the school is "grand fathered" for the ADA rules.
Alex Tytler October 03, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Closing a school will save the taxpayer a ton, and the one to close is clearly Hawley. The building can be redeveloped for private use and get it off of our capital plate.
Karen Kugler October 03, 2012 at 06:27 PM
We all absolutely need to stay on top of this to make sure that what is ultimately decided on is best for the Town, but more importantly our kids. Sadly I agree with a comment made on the ES facebook page, that we cannot afford to make the mistake of thinking that education will ever see a penny of whatever savings comes out of closing a school. The town showed a huge surplus last year. Was some of that money given to the boe when they are struggling to cover State mandated expenses that have risen since the last budget season began? Was any of that money returned to the taxpayers? No, and No. "Found" money goes into this "rainy day" fund, that's where any savings incurred on interest for our bonds go, and that's where any savings from closing a school will end up too - thus a possible motivation for pushing this forward before it has been vetted properly. How's that for a hidden agenda? On another note, a parent had a good point last night. The BOE is looking at this backwards. Why close a school that is ADA compliant and has A/C, etc. and stick our kids in a school that is not ADA compliant where they roast in the summer? Don't our kids deserve better??
Karen C. Pierce October 03, 2012 at 06:41 PM
The school and property were donated by Mary Hawely, and while the Trust that exists offers little in the way of actual dollars, there are stipulations quite specific as to what happens to the building and property if the building is closed. Not certain what they are, but it is possible the building and property would be reallocated to another agency not affiliated with the town.
Karen C. Pierce October 03, 2012 at 06:47 PM
That is an assignation for another town building supported by Mary Hawley's trust, so it is possible that a similar attachments have been made to other buildings our benefactress built and donated. Would recommend town agents, especially BOE become aware of the specifics as these discussions move forward.
Michelle Ku October 04, 2012 at 05:55 PM
The BOE Chair was on the Ad Hoc Facilities Subcommittee which made those recommendations in April. The reason that HOM is being pushed now is because it is the smallest school. It could be closed soonest, because the least number of classrooms would be lost. The Ad Hoc Facilities Subcommittee "considered changes that may provide cost savings while maintaining or improving education quality." The difference between then and now is that there is a sense of urgency to satisfy voters who want no tax increases, there is no long term planning and no talk of "maintaining or improving education quality." This is being driven by expediency.
Sam Mihailoff October 05, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Everyone is now getting all spun up...take a deep breath, padlocks are not going on HOM tomorrow, nor next week, nor next year, IF EVER The parade is not funded by the town. The closure of Hawley may seriously impact the Mary Hawley Trust, plus the HVAC would still need to be done. Some people like parks...sounds like Hawley might just be your personal choice and not with supporting data either :-)
Ben January 26, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Lady are you CRAZY - what's wrong with you?


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