South School Students to be Transferred to East

The Board of Education voted on how the elementary schools will be redistricted in the Fall.


The (BOE) voted Monday night on elementary school redistricting to tackle overcrowding at South School.

Of the six options organized in a Demographic Study by Dr. John Bryan Starr from Yale University, the board unanimously voted on “Option 2,” an option that would move South School students residing in the Avalon Apartment Complex and on New Norwalk Road to East School.

The motion passed by the board was four parts and also stated that children of non-resident faculty will move from to either or at the discretion of the administration in accordance with BOE policy 5120 (sections must be kept within comparable size); children of non-resident faculty at East and West school may be moved between East and West school at the discretion of administration in accordance with policy 5120; and all rising 4th grade students have the option of being grandfathered at their current school.

This course of action will result in student enrollment at South School decreasing from 572 students to 546 students and student enrollment at East School increasing from 539 to 564 for the 2012-2013 school year.

One South School mother who resides in the /New Norwalk Road area immediately left the meeting in tears while other parents beamed.

“I’m very happy,” said Ava Kaufman of Lower Weed Street. “My children, they go to South School, and I think it makes a lot of sense.”

A high and low estimate of enrollment trends for South, East and West Schools compiled by Dr. Starr under Option 2 projects that, over the course of the next five years, East School enrollment will decrease from 564 students to 497 students (high estimate: 588 to 532), South School enrollment will decrease from 546 students to 455 students (high estimate: 583 to 572), and West School enrollment will decrease from 511 students to 389 students (high estimate: 548 to 515).

Starr explained his methods, stating that he calculated enrollment projections “on a school-by-school basis using historical materialization rates (comparing births in the town to Kindergarten enrollees five or six years later) and retention rates (comparing students in one grade level to students in the next grade level the following year).”

Starr also studied the New Canaan real estate market in order to address the unpredictable in-migration and out-migration factor. He reported that he found four trends: the market is beginning to experience a slow recovery since a slump in 2008-2009; there is an increased preference for living close to the center of town, which is primarily within the South School attendance zone; an increasing number of houses in the South School attendance zone are being torn down and replaced with larger and more expensive homes; and the number of of properties on the housing market is decreasing due to a tendency among New Canaan’s older residents to stay where they are.

While board members agreed that Option 2 would be the best course of action to take for the upcoming school year, they also acknowledged that the plan is not perfect.

“Having been through redistricting before, I know it's unpleasant and extremely time consuming. But, having gone through the numbers, there's no great answer to the situation we're in right now,” said board member Alison Bedula. “If there was, we would have solved it a while ago. There isn't a lot of play in these numbers. My concern is not to shift the problem from one school to another, but it's hard not to when looking at these numbers.

“We have the best data available and we're going to make the best decision we can with it. I'm willing to take that chance that there will be a shift next year, but, in case these numbers don’t go down, we'll start developing a plan now,” said Bedula.

For a full list of the options presented to the board and Starr’s latest, revised Demographic Study, visit the New Canaan Board of Education website to download the PDF.

Ade May 08, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I don't have kids at the elementary level any longer but it doesn't seem like much was really accomplished. Among my friends, it seemed none of the South parents wanted their children to be the ones moved but they weren't happy with the overcrowding. It looks like the BOE just moved the problem over to East. It is curious that not a single student (aside from the possibility of children of staff) are being moved to West AND that they have the option of going to East where numbers are not far off from that of South. It is unfortunate for those teachers at South to have their children in a school that starts after the time that they do. I wouldn't be too keen on switching schools if I had little ones involved but the fact that nobody was moved to West, where the numbers are already lower and expected to drop significantly in the next 5 years (unless 389 is a typo), makes no sense whatsoever.
Glen K Dunbar May 08, 2012 at 02:31 PM
For once Abe I tend to sort of agree w/You pal/Sir. Not sure what they are even try to accomplish. My Kelly is in Saxe now. But, is it not like taking from Peter to give to Paul We will have to see how this all plays out. Just think Abe..if Center School was still there that might solve the whole problem
JL May 08, 2012 at 04:45 PM
A couple of things stand out: 1) that this was a unanimous vote when clearly there were several viable alternatives. 2) that the Board of Ed would feel that jamming even more kids into East would not hurt the education of the current and future students there. East is already crowded as it is, straining resources and space even more. Why was the West side option not seriously considered. Seems like moving the kids to East was always a foregone conclusion and no serious thought was given to the alternatives.
Four Jacks May 08, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Okay BOE, all of us out here in internet land are looking at each other and saying "What? Can't these people add." Why weren't students moved to West School? Is the building smaller there? Or is the school just being "protected." Whomever left in tears was totally justified. This is the same king of crappy decision that was made last time!
TP May 09, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Was the person in tears from East or South or West ? What is the big deal, anyhow ?
Darcy Fitzpatrick May 09, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Just like last time when the kids moved from West to South, now South has the problem. next time it will be East.
Elmcrest May 10, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Maybe someone can explain why students living a block away from East School (in the Avalon complex) were being sent to South School for all these years in the first place? It'd be like students living on Ponus Ridge not going to West, or students living on South Ave not going to South. Still, all of these schools pour into Saxe after 4th grade, and at that point, it becomes clear: all three elementary schools are very much alike.
Ade May 10, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Per the article, the woman that left in tears was a South parent that will now be an East parent. I have to agree that the geographics of the move for Avalon kids to East was a no-brainer and I think that is probably why the BOE chose that. It offered a (temporary) solution to the South crowding while ticking off the least amount of South parents. I guess there weren't enough East parents that were paying attention or thought that there was any way it wasn't going to be a move to West instead. It is interesting that the option the BOE chose was the first option they tossed out at the start. Does seem like they just gave people a chance to speak their minds because they had to but didn't take much into consideration. It definitely feels like some sort of conspiracy theory on why West remains now and for the near future the school with the noticeably smallest population. Are minutes from the meetings where they decided this in executive session or available for the public?
Ade May 10, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I think it was because when Avalon was built, South had the most available space and they used 123 as a dividing line at the south end of town. Back then, the South district still had loads of tiny, older houses that have since been bulldozed for larger homes just waiting for large families with tons of students to bulk up the district. I don't see the miniscule change they made making much of a difference since "in town" is the current hot spot for homebuyers and new construction. Let's just assume this change was chapter one.
dismayed May 12, 2012 at 11:54 AM
I find it ironic that those South parents who barked the loudest about the overcrowding were never in jeopardy of being redistricted themselves. Why didn't they volunteer to send their children to East or West where they would have that critical additional "special" and those life altering higher CMT scores? Hypocrisy at its finest and don't even get me started about the voo doo demographics that were presented. The whole process has left me disgusted and dismayed...
Center Schooler May 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Rebuild Center School!!!
Four Jacks May 12, 2012 at 03:38 PM
You are very justified in your position. The good news is that East is a great school!
Glen K Dunbar May 12, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I have to say that I am sorry the Kids who are use to South will have to xfer. Yet, all the schools here are good as all the people who teach/work there. Too bad when I was in school I slipped through the system. Why did nobody help me then??Why did nobody take me OUT of the home situation I was in and give me to a kind and non strict rich Family. Stinks. GLEN
mary parker May 13, 2012 at 07:01 AM
I thought 16 years ago that Summer Street was the cut off line for kids to go to East School. I also think this town should rethink allowing non-resident faculty students who attend our schools should not attend our schools but go to the schools in the towns they live in. I thought the taxes we pay in New Canaan cover our kids schooling. Do the non-resident faculty pay for their kids to go to New Canaan schools? Or do we pay for them?


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