Woodstock,Pomfret,and Eastford preK-8 schools get off to a good start. See the Norwich Bull.
Yesterday the Cafe had 317 unique visitors and >700 page turns. This includes Boycotters .
On October 10th residents of Brooklyn and the residents of three Region 11 towns, Chaplin, Hampton, and Scotland, will vote in a referendum to determine if the Brooklyn will merge with the Region 11 to build a new high school. Residents of each of these 4 towns will be voting to approve or reject a contract binding all parties for 25 years. If the voters of each town approve this merger, the pay-off is significant for all 4 towns. Detailed hearings will be held in Hampton on Sept. 10th, Chaplin Sept. 11th, Brooklyn Sept. 18th, and in Scotland on September 20th. Then two â€œcost detailâ€? hearings will be held on Sept. 25th in Region 11 and on Sept 27 in Brooklyn. There will be a final meeting in Brooklyn on Oct. 2nd and one in Region 11 (Parish Hill High School) on Oct. 9th. The payoff is that the State of CT will provide $80 million in bond funding to build a new high school for the four towns. If acceptance of this bond offer is approved by the voters, a new high school will be built in Brooklyn on Prince Hill Road. Brooklyn will own the land and the governing Cooperative Committee will own the school facilities. My best guess is that the high school would be open to students for the 2010-11 school year.
Another attractive feature of this high school is that Mary Lou Bargnesi, the former headmaster of Norwich Free Academy, will assist in creating an â€œoutstanding educational program.â€? During her tenure Ms. Bargnesi helped NFA raise their endowment by approximately $40 million.
Region 11 has approximately 240 high school students from the 3 sending towns. Brooklyn supplies approximately 26% of the student base to Woodstock Academy, or approximately 290 students. An additional 60 Brooklyn students go to Killingly and 30-35 students are sent to Ellis Tech. So the new high school would likely start with just under 600 high school students although the population could grow while the school is being built. With withdrawal of the Brooklyn students from the Academy, the Academyâ€™s student population would be reduced from approximately 1140 to 850 students, or more.
The locations of Chaplin, Hampton, Scotland, Brooklyn, Killingly and the other sending towns to the Academy can be seen on this map. Since Canterbury is south of Brooklyn and next to Scotland it would not surprise me if Canterbury, an Academy sending town, was eventually invited to send students to this new high school. Canterbury is well known for its annual contentious fight over their budget. If the new high school could offer a tuition rate that is competitive with the Academy, it might be able to recruit Canterbury students. Almost certainly, Canterbury was left out of this negotiation because of its contentious political atmosphere.
It is interesting to examine the composition of the Brooklyn/Region 11 Cooperative Committee. It will have 10 voting members and will initially consist of 6 Brooklyn BOE members, and 4 Region 11 BOE members. The committee make up will be based proportionately upon the student population from each sending group (Brooklyn & Region 11) and this composition will be reviewed every 5 years. Each sub-committee will have a minimum of one Brooklyn and one Region 11 member. The Building Committee will have the same proportionate composition as the governing Cooperative Committee.
The Superintendent of this new school system will be the Brooklyn Superintendent of Schools. The Region 11 high school teaching staff has been guaranteed employment in this new high school. Region 11 and Brooklyn will each share the costs of bond repayment and the annual high school budget based upon percentage enrollment, and this annual budget must be approved by both Brooklyn residents and Region 11 residents each year.
All information on this cooperative high school can be found at http://www.cooperativehighschool.org/ .
It will be interesting to see how the voters respond in this referendum. This merger has been negotiated between the 2 school districts since the beginning of 2006. Itâ€™s hard to imagine that this initiative would fail given the extent to which it has been managed. Apparently all parties are on board with this merger; otherwise I doubt that this vote would have been scheduled for October 10th.
After looking at the agreement between Brooklyn and Region 11 over the building of this new high school, I can say that it looks like a WIN-WIN situation for the 4 towns involved. Brooklyn will have its own high school in town and will not have to send its students to distant Woodstock Academy or Killingly High School, which has accreditation problems, and the Parrish High School/Middle School will presumably remain as the Middle School for the three Region 11 towns. All four towns would end up with a brand new modern high school.
I think Brooklyn and the other towns are doing the right thing. Both regionalism and consolidation makes sense. A recent editorial in the Norwich Bull expressed the notion that Brooklyn educators and parents have wanted a new high school because the town has had little control or say over quality of education for their high school students. Perhaps this also reflects the insular attitude of the Academy toward the sending towns.
As an outcome of the October 10th referendum, we will learn how much Brooklyn values the Academyâ€™s 200-plus year history, the Academyâ€™s â€˜private school’ status, and their self-proclaimed excellence.