“We need a new school, we needed it three years ago.”
Parents spoke out at Tuesday night’s Special Board of Education meeting addressing the overcrowding issue in the city’s schools. Superintendent Winnie Hamilton presented a plan to help solve the problem, which involves adding seats to the magnet schools.
“I’m adding two kindergarten classes to Westover in my plan, one kindergarten class to Toquam, and one kindergarten class to Hart,” says Hamilton. “And opening 75 spots at Scofield and up to 100 spots at Rippowam.”
According to Hamilton’s report, eight to twelve of the elementary schools are at or above 95% capacity and four are over 100%. Hamilton says preference for the new magnet spots would be given to students in the overpopulated schools.
“My summarized plan is to really give parents choice to handle a tricky situation for one year around enrollment while we come up with a long-term solution,” Hamilton says.
That long-term plan involves building a new magnet school to house grades k through 8. But Mayor David Martin says a new school doesn’t seem necessary based on enrollment projections. Many parents at the meeting disagreed.
“To sit there and say ‘oh we got to think about this enrollment’, Mr. Martin, I invite you to come down to Hart,” says Hart Magnet Elementary parent Susan Vidan.
“For the past three years Springdale has gone from 525 students to 710,” says parent and PTO co-president at Springdale Elementary.
“You have to stop putting up the 92.8% about our capacity,” says K.T. Murphy Elementary parent Gina Calabrese. “We’re over 100% capacity, we lost an art room.”
“All three of our music teachers are in the auditorium sharing space,” says Tricia Lepore, a parent at Newfield Elementary School.
“We have lunch in the gym,” says Vidan.
“To what the mayor said, just because you can make something work, doesn’t mean you should have to live with it forever,” Nestor says.
Parents also voiced concerns about the integrity of the magnet schools being impacted by the addition of students. They say this may push those schools past their limits
“They’re going to have to take the kids, they’re going to have to deal with it, and we’re going to make it work, the PTO is going to make it work, but is it desirable? No it’s not,” says Vidan.
“By asking us to increase enrollment, we need additional positions to both support the arts and to support our teaching practices,” says Westover Magnet teacher Allison Klein.
The plan will be addressed again at the next Board of Ed. meeting in January.
To see Dr. Hamilton’s full report, visit stamfordpublicschools.org