Groton to Close Pleasant Valley Elementary School Amid Budget Cuts

Pleasant Valley Elementary School in Groton will close at the end of this school year in order to cut costs after the Town Council voted to slash $5.2 million from the Board of Education's requested budget, according to the district’s superintendent.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Graner told NBC Connecticut of the decision Tuesday. Closing the school will leave about 300 students displaced and impact 18 teachers and about half a dozen staff members who will be laid off or reassigned, Graner said Friday.

Graner said he spoke to faculty Tuesday morning and an email was being sent to parents. He planned to meet with the entire district staff Tuesday afternoon.

Closing Pleasant Valley will save the district about $1.5 million, according to Graner. Groton has six other elementary schools.

The superintendent also said that the district will also be laying off 30 to 40 teachers, three or four administrators, five secretaries, five or six custodians, and at least 15 paraprofessionals. These numbers include the staff at Pleasant Valley.

Officials are still looking into how they will reconfigure the district.

The Town of Groton is estimating $5 million worth of cuts in education funding, according to Town Councilor Diane Barber.

That reduces the district's budget to about $72.5 million from the $77.7 million the school district requested for the next fiscal year, Barber said.

NBC Connecticut spoke to Pleasant Valley parent Danielle Lee before the closure was officially announced. She had concerns about the cuts and feared that the children would suffer.

"Because there’s not enough one-on-one attention. There’s already a ratio of about 20 kids to one teacher. So it’s kind of hard to give every kid what they need," Lee said.

In November, voters approved a $184.5 million dollar school construction project to build a new middle school and renovate the two existing middle schools into elementary schools. That would close three of Groton’s oldest elementary schools: Claude Chester, Pleasant Valley and S.B. Butler. This plan also could mean one of the schools closes earlier than expected, Graner said.

Graner said the district was trying to minimize the impact on students and their families and staff, and the closure seemed the most appropriate way to do that.

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