Board says redistricting showing positive results

The numbers are still fluid and likely to change later this month, but Trumbull’s Board of Education was happy with where enrollment numbers are trending for the upcoming school year.

The board agreed Tuesday night that the enrollment numbers for Frenchtown Elementary show the redistricting plan being implemented this school year is working. Frenchtown currently has 560 students enrolled, compared to 668 this time last year, which led to overcrowding concerns.

Chairman Deborah Herbst remarked that the redistricting process was upsetting for many parents but the results were positive.

“We did accomplish what we set out to do,” Herbst said.

Superintendent Gary Cialfi agreed that the enrollment numbers are coming in better than expected.

“The numbers at this time of the year change almost daily,” Cialfi said.

The redistricting plan, approved in May, moved roughly 75 students living in The Eaves housing complex out of the Frenchtown district to the

Middlebrook district. The plan allows older students to be “grandfathered” in to Frenchtown and gives administrators the ability to decide which school students will attend, based on future enrollment. The plan’s goal was to alleviate overcrowding, allowing for art and music classroom, and eliminate portables.

So far, Middlebrook enrollment is at 477 students, compared to last year’s 456.

“Our Middlebrook number will likely increase with incoming Eaves residents,” Cialfi said Tuesday night.Board members were also happy with class size breakdowns at Middlebrook so far.

When the board’s enrollment committee came back with redistricting proposals last spring, many parents and community members were upset with the plan and thought it was only shifting overcrowding problems to another school. Others were frustrated that their call for a public forum on the proposals was not heeded.

“This was volatile and people were upset about it,” Herbst said of the process. “We want to get the message out there to the general public that this is how it’s all flushed out.”

Come September there will be no portable classrooms at Trumbull elemertary schools, Cialfi said.

“Are you going to padlock those?” Board Vice Chair Loretta Chory asked.

“We are trying to go beyond that and make sure that portables are not on the premises,” Cialfi said.

However, removing the portables is expensive. Potentially moving and setting up a portable for more office space at the Long Hill Administration Building would cost about $130,000, Cialfi said.

Herbst said if portables have to stay put for a while, she hopes they are only used to hold paper, not people.

As the numbers firm up later this month, Cialfi said he will share the positive results of redistricting with the public, as requested by the board.