ECC to stay at Warde, Stratfield until 2020-21 school year
FAIRFIELD — A plan that would have seen the Early Childhood Center spread out across as many as three school sites in the coming years was changed to instead keep the center at its two current locations for the next two school years and give the Board of Education more time to consider options.
For now, what is certain is that the ECC will remain at its original location, Warde High School, and more students will be sent to Stratfield Elementary starting this September. Both locations will host the ECC through the 2020-21 school year.
“I believe that right now it makes sense to continue to move forward with what we originally planned on which was ECC Warde and Stratfield,” member Nick Aysseh, who proposed the amendment to keep the ECC at the two locations until 2021, said.
The ECC, which has seen a doubling in its population, is struggling to address a growing number of students. According to enrollment data, there were around 80 students in 2009 and 161 by the end of the 2017-18 school year.
Aysseh’s motion stated that the Warde and Stratfield campuses would host the ECC until the 2020-21 school year “with a future elementary school(s) coming online to handle increased enrollment and/or to phase out the Stratfield campus in the future.”
This motion was passed unanimously by the board, though not without discussion.
What may or may not happen after the 2020-21 school year is yet to be decided, particularly as the board has reopened the debate on whether the ECC could be at one central location or spread out across three campuses after 2021 in their charges to consultants Milone and MacBroom.
“(Having the ECC at Warde and Stratfield until 2021) gives us an opportunity of at least two years of following a class, four classrooms at Stratfield, and giving us some data and outcomes on what it’s like in an elementary school and the way it is,” Aysseh said.
Some members described the plan as yet another punt.
“I’m not opposed to this motion, I’m only hesitant that we’ve been talking about all of these issues for almost two years now and have yet to make a decision to set the ball in motion,” member Jennifer Leeper said.
Members, though they had obtained a sense that the majority of the board preferred a multiple-site ECC earlier this year, made amendments to the charges for the consultants so they could have an in-depth look into four possible scenarios for the center.
These include: repurposing an elementary school or other facility, using Warde and one elementary school, vacating Warde and using Holland Hill and North Stratfield and, lastly, using Warde and both Holland Hill and North Stratfield.
“I’m making this amendment because I want to see these options,” member Trisha Pytko said. “I need to see how many kids will be impacted and which schools and which classrooms.”
The amendments to the charges passed 8-1 with board member Jennifer Jacobsen voted in opposition.
The next Board of Education takes place Aug. 27.
The original proposal the board was considering Tuesday night — and was subsequently tabled — called for the ECC to be split between Holland Hill, North Stratfield and a possible third site at Stratfield for the 2020-21 school year. For the 2021-22 school year, the ECC would have been at both Holland Hill and North Stratfield Elementary.