Teachers, students show opposition to Wallingford school consolidation

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Teachers and students are fighting back against a proposal to merge Wallingford’s two high schools.

The Wallingford Public Schools District would combine the Sheehan and Lyman Hall high schools because of declining enrollment.

The Wallingford Board of Education voted eight to one last month to combine Sheehan and Lyman Hall high schools. The schools would merge into Lyman High School at its Pond Hill Road site. The new high school would be about 300,000 square feet and cost about $216 million.

A group rallied Tuesday afternoon to show their opposition for the plan. A public hearing by the town council followed at 6:30 p.m.

The site for the one high school would be at the current Lyman Hall site. The high school would keep the agriculture, science education center and football stadium.

Wallingford Superintendent Danielle Bellizzi said there are benefits to having one high school instead of two. Bellizzi said the city could offer students more extracurricular activities and sports.

“Some of our classes are not running because the enrollment is very low whereas if you were in one consolidating high school and you had a larger group of students together and a large staff together, you’d be able to have multiple sections of your classes and able to offer additional courses,” Bellizzi said.

If they renovated the two schools, the superintendent says it would cost the town $123 million dollars. 

“We’re not concerned with students, numbers, we’re concerned with us. The youth. This plan right here basically tells us all that our town is failing. Everybody’s leaving. We need one high school to save it. And the solution is not to just combine us,” said Ben Busillo, a Sheehan High School student.

To combine the schools, the town would save about $1 million. Students and parents are — pushing to keep the schools separate. 

“I think that is the wrong decision for Sheehan as a town, especially for the students,” said Savanna Bauman, a senior at Sheehan High School. “The class sizes would be way too big to be able to build the connections you want with teachers.”

Supporters said the move would save the city of Wallingford money and would be better for academics and sports.

A resolution was not reached during the public hearing.

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