School redistricting impacts Frenchtown area

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WESTBROOK — Superintendent Peter Lancia has laid out plans to redistrict about 100 elementary school students in and around the Frenchtown neighborhood to the expanded Saccarappa School, beginning in the fall.

Students in the Frenchtown neighborhood, from Bridge Street to the river, have historically been divided between Canal, Congin and Saccarappa schools. The majority of students living between Prince and Bridge streets have gone to Congin and those between Prince Street and the river have attended Canal, except for an area near Dana Warp Mill, where the students have attended Saccarappa.

Now most of the children who live between Roy Avenue and the mill will be attending school at Saccarappa on Huntress Avenue in the fall, except for Myrtle Street, which will be split between the three schools based on house number.

“We tried to minimize the impact as best we could,” Lancia said last week of the team that came up with the redistricting plan.

While some bus routes will be adjusted, Lancia said the new routes will not “greatly impact the length of time students are on buses.”

Lancia said he knows changing schools is tough for elementary school students and their families, but school staff members are “ready to support you and your children to make sure the transition is smooth.”

An open house for impacted parents will be held at Saccarappa School later this month and events to welcome new students will be held this spring.

The redistricting, Lancia said, will mean Congin and Canal won’t be so crowded and will no longer need modular classrooms.

The larger Saccarappa School will also provide space for the city’s pre-kindergarten program, which is housed at the Westbrook Community Center. 

Lancia said which staff members will be making the move is still being worked out. He intends to first ask for volunteers and “work closely with building principals and the Westbrook Education Association to identify staff who would be reassigned.”

Two classrooms that won’t be moving is the functional life skills, which will remain at Congin and the emotional/disability room that will remain at Canal.

Although Sarah Andre, a resident of Cottage Street, isn’t impacted by the redistricting, she warned the School Committee last week about “pulling children away from a neighborhood school that is within walking distance.”

Andre, who has had students at Canal School for the last eight years, said she has loved the education the school has provided, but not being within walking distance has limited her and her children’s involvement in school activities. Her house is less than a mile away from Congin School, she said, but her street is districted to an elementary school twice as far away.

Being within walking distances to schools, she said, results in a more active lifestyle, more neighborhood pride for students and the ability for parents to more easily get to PTO meetings and after-school and weekend events.

“The dense urban neighborhood we live in feels the negative affects on being bused,” she said.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or mkelley@keepmecurrent.com or on Twitter @mkelleynews.

Students at Saccarappa School return from recess earlier this school year. Next school year when the major school expansion/renovation is complete, 100 students currently at Canal and Congin schools will be redistricted to Saccarappa.

The elementary school boundaries in the Frenchtown neighborhood will be shifted to relieve congestion at Canal and Congin schools and fill new classrooms at Saccaraooa School.

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