Early ed. committee to study options

By

Colchester School District Superintendent Amy Minor is forming a committee to study the needs of Colchester’s youngest students, with the possibility of building a new early education center under consideration.

It’s a broader approach than Minor’s predecessor, Larry Waters, took last year when he spearheaded a focused study of the early education center concept. The new building, proposed for district property near Colchester High School, would replace Porters Point and Union Memorial schools and house the district’s fledgling preschool program.

Minor said she is not predisposed toward building a new school for pre-K through grade 2 but is concerned about the age and potential renovation needs of the district’s two elementary schools.

She also said it’s “unacceptable” that the district’s preschool program is not housed in the same building as kindergarten. Currently, its preschool is in its grade 3-5 building, Malletts Bay School.

The 12-member committee will be comprised of Minor, school board chairman Mike Rogers; preschool educators, teachers, administrators and parents from Union Memorial and Porters Point; an architect and two at-large community members.

The committee will also consider renovating Union Memorial and Porters Point schools instead.

“The committee will focus specifically on the best course of action for our preK-2 students, keeping in mind our responsibility to be good stewards of the financial resources bestowed to us by the Colchester community,” Minor said.

The committee will begin meeting in December and will study each options’ financial and educational benefits and challenges with a plan to present findings to the school board and solicit community feedback, Minor said.

School board members and administrators are also investigating the purchase of the former doctor’s office that houses the high school’s alternative program for students with enhanced behavioral needs.

According to the school district’s business and operations manager, George Trieb, the owner is asking $925,000. Administrators will have the building independently appraised.

If the district pursues a new early education center, it would remove the need to rent space for the alternative program, Minor said. In that case, the alternative program would move to the current central office next to the high school, which would move into the early education building, she said.

Minor is opposed to putting the alternative program in the early education center, she said, citing previous unsuccessful attempts to house the program in the same building as mainstream students.