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History of the Stratford Schools

Timeline of the History of the Stratford School System (Taken from In Pursuit of Paradise by Lewis G. Knapp)

  • 1670: Townsmen (selectman) were instructed to determine if there was a sufficient need to hire a school master.
  • October 31, 1687: The town meeting voted to use the income from the town land at the ferry to support public schools. The first schoolhouse had been built (date unknown) at Sandy Hollow across from the town meeting house.
  • 1705: The town freemen elected a committee "for ye management of a school of Schools in Stratford as ye necessity of the town requires for the education of children to read & write as ye law requires and to covenant with some suitable person or persons for that and to tend said school or schools the major part of said committee to rule."
  • 1717: Farmers too far from the existing schools "shall have the use of their part of the 40 shillings pr. Thousand allowed by law seven years ensuing, provided they educate their children according to the law." The school tax mill rate figures out to two mills.
  • 1740: The Ecclesiastical Society named four schools: South End, North End, Oronoke & Putnee, and Pembrook.
  • 1806: Stratford Academy, located on Academy Hill, is charted by the state, with leading townsmen as its trustees.
  • 1818: Under new state constitution the town became obligated to operate the schools. Prior to this (from 1734), the Congregational Church and other ecclesiastical society were allowed to have their own schools in Stratford.
  • 1824: The town map shows the following schools: New North on Paradise Green, South Middle on the common at Academy Hill, and Harvey's Farm School on East Main Street. Union school later stood on the site of the town hall, and Oronoque was built in 1844. Pembroke and Newfield schools were handed off to the new town of Bridgeport.
  • 1835: Old School school (School District #1) is listed as having 55 families and a total of 120 students. It is suspected that the school operated on a staggered schedule with girls and young boys attending in the summer and boys old enough for farm work attending in the winter.
  • 1837: Elizabeth Curtis, a teacher at Old South School, was paid $48 for instructing for 24 weeks. Ten year;s later James Curtis received $54 for 24 weeks, and a decade after that S. Curtis, Jr. earned a full $105 for teaching only three months. During the time period the curriculum is composed of reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, oratory, history and geography.
  • 1856: Prior to 1856 there were ten school districts in the town. From 1857 the town had seven school districts each with an overcrowded one-room school house.
  • 1871: A movement began to combine five districts into one.
  • 1873: A resolution is adopted: "Resolved. That the School Districts of the Town of Stratford be known as the 'Old South,' 'South Middle,' 'Old North,' 'Union,' and 'New North' School District, be united and consolidated... as one undivided District for all School purposes."
  • 1885: The eight-room Stratford Graded School opened. The school was located where East Broadway meets Main Street. The Graded School packed eight grades into seven rooms, and the high school occupied the eighth. The Center Graded School became a unifying force in town. The growing student population required the addition of another room by 1893 and in 1989 the town leased a story on Main Street for an annex.
  • 1897: The school board authorized another school to be built on North Avenue and named it for George Washington.
  • 1909: The Center Graded School expands by four more rooms.
  • 1910: Franklin Elementary School is built.
  • 1913: The new school on Huntington Road is named for inventor Eli Whitney.
  • 1917: Sedgewick Elementary School is replaced by the newly built Honeyspot Elementary School.
  • 1921: The original Center School building burns down. It is later rebuilt.
  • 1925: A new building to house Stratford High School is built.
  • 1929: The town committee releases a report that "the number of children in public schools suffering from malnutrition should be of concern to the entire community." The town considered providing school children with milk and crackers to help combat this direct effect of the Depression. Teachers are ordered to advise which students need shoes so that the town can provide them.
  • 1929: Stonybrook Grammar School opened. The school was built in 1928 and opened in 1929. It was located on Stonybrook Road where house numbers 160-202 sit today. Stonybrook Field which is located at the end of Cardinal Place, currently sits on what Stonybrook School's outdoor recess area and ball field. The school closed in June 1982 and was demolished in 1983. Click here to view a picture of the building.
  • 1931: Birdseye Elementary School is built.
  • 1934: The Board of Education is able to give pay raises to teachers making less than $1,400 a year.
  • 1937: The Putney School project receives WPA approval. The Board of Education discussed dismissing married teachers whose husbands had jobs in industry in order to open up jobs for single Stratford girls.
  • 1941: There are 14 schools in town with 148 classrooms.
  • 1950: Stratford High receives a new gym and a music room.
  • 1951: Ground is broken for Wooster Junior High School and Johnson Junior High School.
  • 1953: A town-council appointed school board is replaced by an elected Board of Education by a vote of 603 to 142.
  • 1954: Second Hill Lane Grammar School opens.
  • 1957: Great Neck Grammar School is dedicated. The school closes 20 years later.
  • 1961: Bunnell High School is opened on Connors Lane.
  • 1964: A new addition is added to Stratford High School including an auditorium, 14 classrooms, and a cafeteria.
  • 1965: The cost to educate one child in Stratford is listed at $512. By 1989 the cost was estimated at $6000. Today the cost is $9373.
  • 1966: A new Honeyspot Grammar School opens. The old Honeyspot school building is sold to Howard Johnson's.
  • 1970: The former Putney school building is closed after the Superintendent of Schools office moved to the old Consolidated/Center School building.
  • 1970: The new Center Elementary School opens.
  • 1971: Harry B. Flood Middle School on Chapel Street opens.
  • November 18, 1976: BOARD OF ED PLANNING COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS GREAT NECK CLOSING: The Stratford Board of Education Planning Committee has recommended the closing of Great Neck School effective next year. In its recommendation to the Board, the Committee also suggested that Great Neck students be sent to nearby Lordship Elementary School. The decision supported by Committee members Beryl Lombardi and Anthony Caseria and opposed by Committee member Gail Stockhan was also endorsed by Superintendent of Schools John Olha. Olha said the schools closing is necessary to provide a good sound instructional program. Currently Great Neck School has an enrollment of 99 students while Lordship has 210. The average elementary school enrollment in Stratford is approximately 325. Projected enrollment figures for 1977-78 shows 198 students at Lordship and 103 at Great Neck. Consolidation of the schools would mean 301 students would attend Lordship next fall. According to Henry Fagan, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Lordship School can accommodate up to 325 students. While primarily based on enrollment projections, the decision to close Great Neck did touch on the question of learning efficiency in the school. At Lordship School the average class size is 23 students and at Great Neck it is 17. In light of the recent budget cuts, Ohla asked if the committee thought the Town would support that class size situation in one school. By combining the schools, Joseph Sworin predicted that about $70,000 could be saved in the first year of Great Necks closing. Teachers currently employed at the school would be transferred to other areas in the system while some positions such as custodian, secretary and lunchroom supervisor could be eliminated. Click here for pictures.
  • 2005: Center Elementary School closes.
  • 2015: Opening of Victoria Soto School at 699 Birdseye Street
  • 2017: Start up (broke ground) for the renovation/new Stratford High School construction project.