More than three dozen Church Hill School students will soon be attending Helen Street School in an effort to correct the racial imbalance that the state has ordered the town's school district to correct at Church Street School.
The state Department of Education on Wednesday approved the plan that redistricts 43 Church Street students to Helen Street School, Supt. of Schools Fran Rabinowitz said Thursday. The families of those affected were notified on Thursday, she said.
"We wanted to wait until the state approved the plan before notifying them," she said.
The district was notified in June that Church Street School was “out of racial balance” -- that the percentage of minority students was more than 25 percent higher than the district average. That triggered the requirement that the district develop a plan to rectify that imbalance, Rabinowitz said, and that plan was approved Wednesday.
What it doesn't do is any redistricting beyond the 43 Church Street students, as was reported in the media Thursday, Rabinowitz said.
"I never said there was going to be major redistricting this year," she said.
“The Board [of Education] has no plans regarding, and is not considering, any immediate wholesale redistricting of Hamden’s neighborhood elementary schools,” said board chairman Michael D'Agostino.
Helen Street School was selected because of its proximity to Church Street School, as well as its available space, Rabinowitz said.
"In an effort to minimize the disruption to students and families, the administration carefully selected to move the neighborhood of Church Street School students that live closest to Helen Street School," she said in a release Thursday. "Helen Street School is one of five Hamden schools that demonstrated significant growth in student achievement over the past several years."
Principal Michael Lorenzo was named “Connecticut PTA Principal of the Year,” she said, and 100 percent of its families are enrolled in its PTA.
An informational meeting is scheduled for January for the families of the students involved in the redistricting, Rabinowitz said, when they will be introduced to the Helen Street School community.
A long-term feasibility study is planned to address student growth and changing demographics, she said, which will explore possibilities including building a new school, renovating existing schools and returning Alice Peck School to use as an elementary school.
The alternative high school, now located at Alice Peck, could be moved to the Central Office building, Rabinowitz said, and Central Offices could be moved into a school building.
But, "right now, clearly the only redistricting we are working on for the 2013-14 school year is the 43 students who will go from Church Street to Helen Street School," she said.