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Teachers express cautious optimism in combining schools

Sumner and Danbury, which have about 530 and 75 students, respectively, have traditionally been viewed as two schools or been presented as a hyphenate: Sumner-Danbury. Mr. Ward says he is now thinking of them as one campus: Sumner Danbury.

The staffs were presented with the change last Thursday by a delegation consisting of Superintendent Jim Elsasser, Mr. Ward, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Mike Bateman and Director of Special Education Amber Verdi.

“Jim asked them to give the model a try. He said the district will put it in place for a year to two years, and evaluate its success to make sure things are headed in the right direction,” Mr. Ward said. “He’s not really married to any one approach and he’s not going to blindly let [the changes] be implemented. This model could change and it could grow.”

Sarah Estrada, a special education teacher at Danbury, said the announcement was a surprise.

“I think just knowing that Danbury School had been under a certain model for so many years, it brought a certain level of uncertainty at first,” she said. “All our students have physical and health impairments and our school site has so many diverse learners. Being a teacher of a specialized field, my concern is always that my students’ needs are going to be met.”

Mr. Tonan said the staffs of Sumner and Danbury have mixed feelings on the combining of the campuses.

“There’s some uncertainty, but also hope that this will give us a chance to restart things and really integrate us more than we already are,” he said.