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Dozens of parents attend budget meeting, protesting restructuring plans in Haddam-Killingworth schools

KILLINGWORTH -- The Haddam-Killingworth school district is looking at a shake-up next year.

The plan would be to create two kindergarten to third grade primary schools, one in Killingworth and one in Haddam. The district would also create a new intermediate program, grades four and five, housed at Haddam-Killingworth Middle School. There would also be a middle school program for grades six, seven and eight at the middle school. Each program at the middle school would have its own administrator.

The reason why this plan has created so much conflict is because it means closing the beloved Haddam Elementary School.

“The school is a big attraction,” said Jennifer Petrillo, a Haddam parent. “It’s a vast portion of the center of our town and it’s a young family-attractive town because of that.”

Patrillo has a child in kindergarten and a three-year-old. She has been to nearly every meeting over the last several months, making her voice heard in protest to the school restructuring plan.

The Board of Education cites a report that shows decreasing enrollment numbers at Haddam Elementary School as a reason to close it.

On Thursday night, dozens of parents flooded the cafeteria of Haddam-Killingworth Middle School to hear the Board of Education, Selectmen and Finance Committee discuss the new budget proposal.

People who own businesses near Haddam Elementary School say they are worried they will lose customers with less foot traffic. Another point of opposition involves the mixed ages of students. Many parents say they think it would be inappropriate to send fourth graders to school in the same building as teenagers.

“I think there are more mature issues in middle school and I think fourth graders are too little,” said Alyssa Caparaso of Higganum. “In this age of social media that’s happening, kids grow up too fast.”

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