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New Canaan To Move Some South School Students

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Parent Michael Maechling respects the difficult decision New Canaan school officials made to solve overcrowding at the elementary level. So he understands why some South School students will be in different classes next fall.

“It’s hard to say which option is best, but I think they went with the one that was the least disruptive,” said Maechling, one of several parents at Monday’s Board of Education hearing. After weeks of discussions, the school board opted to have more than two dozen South School students attend classes at East School next fall. Elementary school students living on New Norwalk Road and in the Avalon Apartments complex will transfer from South School to East School for the 2012-13 school year.

The shift will also have nonresident children of New Canaan faculty members move from South to East or West schools based on the discretion of the administration.

But all of next year’s fourth-graders have the option of staying in their current schools.

The discussions were prompted by projections for the 2012-13 school year that showed South School’s enrollment at 587 students. The expected enrollment at East School is 517, according to a school report, and 479 at West School.

Maechling, whose two children will attend South School in the fall, said the decision was best because it moved students who were already close to East. “It seemed kind of sensible,” he said. “I just wanted the best decision to be made.”

Amy and John Sheffield, who also have children at South, opposed the redistricting and would have liked for schools officials to look at other options. “I don’t know why we didn’t look at portable (classrooms) or look at having more resources applied to the schools,” Amy Sheffield said.

John Sheffield, who is also a member of the town's Board of Finance, said the district also could have done nothing and waited out the year because enrollment at South was expected to drop in the years.

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