Growing class sizes may force Granby to reconfigure schools

  • Sections of the landscaping around the expanded and newly renovated East Meadow School in Granby are designated "no mow" to lessen the environmental impact of the elementary school. Photographed on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A typical classroom in the newly renovated older section of East Meadow Elementary School in Granby is shown on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • This Granby dinosaur resides on East State Street (Rt. 202) between the East Meadow School, at right, and Granby Junior-Senior High School. Photographed on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/26/2019 5:52:26 PM

GRANBY — In response to increasing enrollment in Granby Public Schools, district officials are considering rearranging the new East Meadow Elementary School’s setup to maintain target class sizes.

The Granby School Committee has developed four options in anticipation of a capacity issue in the 2020-2021 school year:

■Moving sixth-grade classes to the Granby Junior-Senior High School (GJSHS) building.

■Moving preschool classes to the GJSHS building or an alternate site.

■Turning art and music classrooms into cart classrooms, which would free up the former two spaces for regular classrooms.

■Maintaining the current setup at East Meadow.

To gather community input and generate additional ideas, school officials held two focus group meetings in the morning and evening Wednesday, with the first meeting drawing 17 parents. A second set of meetings, which will share the same format and topics, will be held at 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Monday in the East Meadow school library. 

Granby Schools previously struggled with declining enrollment, but saw an increase for the first time in eight years during the past school year, then-School Committee Chairman Emre Evren said at a Town Meeting in June — more than 30 new students joined the district. Enrollment is the district’s primary source of revenue. 

But the elementary school building was designed at a time when enrollment was declining, Superintendent Sheryl Stanton said at the Wednesday morning meeting, and the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which provided funding for the project, recommended a “conservative” design that reflected this smaller student body size. Features not included in the state agency’s recommended design, such as additional classrooms, must be funded by the town. 

Stanton attributed the increase in enrollment to the new East Meadow building — which opened last year after the old building underwent a $32.5 million renovation and expansion — along with a new administration.

“I think there’s an excitement,” she said. 

“We are bucking the trend of declining enrollment, which is a good thing,” Stanton said, “but it has created this capacity issue.”

At the Wednesday morning focus group meeting, some parents expressed concerns that sixth graders and older high school students have too large of an age gap to place under the same roof.

But beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, current conditions could compromise the school’s target class sizes, which are 17-22 students per class in kindergarten through third grade, and 20-25 students per class in fourth through sixth grade.

The music and art classrooms are also specially equipped for their subjects, Stanton said at a Sept. 10 School Committee meeting. The art room, for instance, has a kiln and multiple sinks. 

School officials intend to pitch a proposal at the Oct. 8 School Committee meeting, and come to a decision on Nov. 5 following discussion with the School Committee.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at 

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