As students get ready to head back to class, parents in one school district are worried their children will be in some tight quarters.
A steady increase in enrollment in Rocky Hill has the town looking into investing in a new intermediate school.
Parents had the chance to voice their concerns at a public hearing Monday night, but now it will be up to the voters to build the school.
"Having great schools is why parents move to this town. It's why we moved to this town," said Joe Leal, of Rocky Hill.
The proposed cost of the new school is about $50 million. Parents believe something must be done to address the overcrowding within Rocky Hill schools, and say building an intermediate school for 4th and 5th graders is necessary.
"I think it's something that's desperately needed due to the ever growing population here in town," said Tina Fichera, of Rocky Hill.
The district said every school has seen a spike in enrollment with West Hill Elementary seeing the most. It jumped by more than 100 students in a few years.
With school set to start in just a few weeks, the district has added 14 portable classrooms to the two elementary schools, but overall are still 18 classrooms short.
"This is not something we can forget about. This is a need of a community now. It's no longer a want. It's an absolute need," said Rocky Hill Board of Education member Jennifer Allison.
On Monday night, the town council voted 'yes' to add a referendum to the November ballot for a new school in Rocky Hill.
"I'm thrilled that our council recognized that need," said parent Leslie Kerz, who said she recognizes that passing the referendum will be a challenge. "Traditionally in Rocky Hill it’s been very hard to pass education referendums, but I think that it’s come down to the fact that it really is a matter of investing in the town, staying invested in our quality of life and restoring the town that we used to be."
Skip Rivard, who is on the board of education for Rocky Hill and also a college professor, said class size plays an important role in how students learn.
"I know what it’s like in my own classroom, when its overcrowded and how difficult it is for an educator to address the needs and concerns of each and every student and to stay on top of it, it’s so important today in the classroom that a teacher be involved with each and every student," Rivard said.
Teresa Weatherbee's three young children, ages 7, 5 and 4 will be directly impacted the decision to build a new school.
“Each year there's more kids in every class and I want them to have that one-on-one teacher interaction,” Weatherbee said.
She wants residents who believe this issue is only a concern for parents, to think twice before voting "no" in November.
“I just hope the citizens of Rocky Hill understand that it’s not just for the kids, it’s also for property values, people will start moving out to look for a better education for their kids,” Weatherbee said.
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