Coleytown to remain 6-8 school, but redistricting possible
WESTPORT — With the town’s financiers asking for further clarity, the Board of Education on Monday guaranteed Coleytown Middle School will reopen as a sixth- to eighth- grade school.
However, as a part of the statement, the board included a caveat to potentially use redistricting to balance class sizes between Coleytown and Bedford Middle School. The BOE unanimously approved the statement with BOE member Vik Muktavaram abstaining after two amendments.
BOE Member Elaine Whitney said it was important the board looked carefully at re-balancing to ensure students are getting equitable education benefits.
“I’m very optimistic that we will find a solution to get us a balanced sixth to eighth grade,” she said.
The discussion comes in light of CMS having smaller class sizes as compared to BMS. Board members also decided against an idea of a sixth grade academy due to timing, and lack of evidence to support it was better educationally at the moment.
“I think timing is of the essence,” BOE Vice Chair Jeannie Smith said. “We have been in a transition period of leadership and we have to be sensitive to that.”
Interim Superintendent David Abbey said a sixth through eighth middle school provides benefits a sixth grade academy does not. For example, interaction between students in different grade levels.
“Last spring I had an opportunity to speak with Bedford Middle School newspaper,” Abbey said. “It was wonderful to see the relationship they have with each other.”
Abbey said while his analysis was not complete of potential solutions he did want more community input.
“I’m struggling to ascertain as to why a sixth grade academy purely on educational terms would be a better model for our students,” he said.
Jim Izzo, Representative Town Meeting member from District 3, said the academy is not an option right now.
“We are a great school system and a great school district,” he said. “The Coleytown real estate has gone downhill. These people in my district need to feel a sense of home.”
Izzo said redistricting was unavoidable, but the sixth to eighth model needed to be supported.
“Let’s make an honest statement that we’re going to go sixth through eighth and we’re going to back it because we want to get our community back,” he said.
Andrew Colabella, RTM member from District 4, said redistricting has been discussed for the past year.
“The community has spoken out. We’ve been at these meetings until late at night discussing how there is a love in this community especially for the sixth to eighth grade model,” he said. “It is a curriculum that works.”
Colabella said he did not see a sixth grade academy working and the community has voiced nonstop support for CMS to reopen as it was. He added he’s experienced redistricting growing up and it’s something that many have had to go through.
“These kids are not only resilient, but so are the parents and the people in this town and so are you,” he said. “Let’s keep it sixth through eighth.”