Improving education opportunities for students and looming state budget cuts are among the reasons the Franklin and Bozrah school districts are exploring the idea of a merger.
But school officials said plans are just in a preliminary stage. Both towns still need to vote on creating a joint 10-member temporary regional study committee to explore what this could mean for the school systems.
"Better science opportunities, math opportunities, performing arts opportunities. It’s tough to run a performing arts program, or a band or a music program with, for instance, 10 kids in the 7th grade in a couple of years," Franklin Superintendent Dr. Larry Fenn said.
Bozrah’s superintendent, Dr. Jack Welch, added that it could give his students world language classes and more extracurricular activities.
There’s also the possibility of cost savings. Fenn said under Governor Malloy’s latest budget proposal, Franklin would lose about 45 percent of the budget to run the pre-K through 8th grade school, which he calls "absolutely disastrous."
Welch said Bozrah is not set to lose too much money, but a merger could help save with utilities and maintenance costs.
There are questions about staffing both schools that the regional study committee would need to look into.
"I don’t think we’d be straight forward and honest if we didn’t acknowledge that a consolidation could be arise to reductions. Some of which might be handled through attrition," Welch said.
Parents also had questions about transportation times, however, the two schools are relatively close in proximity and size.
Current enrollment in Franklin is 166, according to Fenn. Welch said enrollment at Bozrah is 201 and will likely plateau over the years. Both schools have pre-K through 8th grade classes.
Roslynn Constant just started the pre-K program at Franklin Elementary School.
"My husband grew up in this town and I’ve only heard such great things about the elementary school and they have a really great educational program there" Renee Constant, Roslynn’s mom, said.
She understand Franklin’s enrollment is on the decline and is open to hearing how exploring the idea of a merger with Fields Memorial School in Bozrah could help Rosynn’s education.
Rae O’Neil has two grandchildren in the Bozrah school district and said she’s not closing her mind to the idea of looking at a potential merger.
"Different things they’ll be able to do as far as sports and field trips," O’Neil said.
This is in an exploratory phase, but both superintendents said class sizes should not exceed 25 students.