After a comprehensive study was done in 2012 it became clear that this two-town school district, representing Durham and Middlefield, is facing declining enrollment and that decline is expected to continue for another eight years
So, Region 13's Board of Education is looking into what should be done with all of the districts school facilities in the coming years. And your input is wanted.
Region 13 will be holding a workshop Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. at Coginchaug High School. This is the first of what is expected to be a series of community workshops, with the purpose being to listen to ideas, concerns and preferences from the communities.
Below is a piece by Bob Fulton, the chairman of the Board of Education's Facilities Study Committee, who details more the reason why the public's input is wanted as the board examines the future of the school district.
By Bob Fulton
CONTINUING THE BOARD OF EDUCATION/COMMUNITY COLLABORATION
The Board of Education’s recent appointment of Dr. Kathryn Y. Veronesi as the new Superintendent of Schools for Regional District 13 brought a successful conclusion to arguably its most important responsibility. The high level of community support and participation in the selection process was invaluable and contributed significantly to its success. Selection criteria developed as part of the Community Assessment were used throughout the process and was an integral factor in the final selection.
The Board of Education is now seeking community support with another important challenge; developing a comprehensive strategic plan to address declining enrollment in the District. And here’s how you can help!
The RSD 13 Board of Education invites you to participate in a series of community workshops regarding the development of a utilization plan for our District’s schools. The first workshop will be held on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 in the cafeteria at Coginchaug Regional High School from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. The purpose of the first workshop is to get your ideas on how the Board should address declining enrollment in the district.
The Board has selected Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. (DRA) to develop a Facilities Utilization Study. DRA has been conducting building evaluations and will be meeting with school staff to conduct programming and educational planning meetings throughout the fall. The October 29, 2013 workshop is part of this initial evaluation process and is designed to listen to you and obtain your input. Specifically, concurrent breakout sessions will collect your thoughts, comments and input on the following topics:
- "Containers" — the
- "Contents" — educational
- "Currents"—RSD 13's
trends, including demographics and enrollments
- "Children/students"—focusing on the issues and needs of students
I’ve been asked who
should attend the workshop(s). The answer is anyone who lives in Durham or
Middlefield, is a parent, a student, a family member, a taxpayer, a senior, a
teacher, an elected official, anyone who works or is retired, members of the
business community or civic groups, members of the clergy and anyone else who
has an interest in the future of Regional School District 13. I think that
covers it! All members of our communities are invited and encouraged to attend
and share your thoughts and concerns. If you are unable to attend in person,
please send your comments to feedback@RSD13publicschools.org or call the Board of Education with any questions at 860-349-7200.
Subsequent workshops will focus on "Alternatives: Understanding the options", scheduled for December 11th and "Shaping Recommendations for Board consideration", at a date to be determined in January, 2014. Since the focus of each of these workshops is different, it would be most beneficial if you are able to attend all three.
The overall goal of the school utilization study is to align enrollment trends with district wide operational and program efficiencies in order to make the best use of district and taxpayer resources while optimizing educational opportunities for our students.
The potential benefits to be obtained from the study are wide ranging and include the following: 1. review and update the physical status of buildings and grounds including possible capital improvement needs 2. assess facility needs and capabilities to more effectively incorporate technology in our educational programs 3. review educational programs to determine more efficient uses of our facilities 4. asses the security and safety status of our facilities and 5. consider the impact on transportation costs of any alternative proposals.
The Board of Education has not made any decision or reached any conclusion about how best to respond to decreasing enrollment in the District. Those topics will be the subject of later community workshops and discussions as the school utilization study proceeds and options come more clearly into view. For now, our focus is on gathering facts and information and listening to community comment, input and feedback.
The school utilization study may be the single most important initiative undertaken in the District in many years. While the challenges are many, the opportunities for improving District operations, cost savings and, most importantly, enhancing the educational experience and preparedness of our children are far greater.
We hope to see you on October 29th.