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Derby hosting public STAR bond hearing Oct. 26

Following a preliminary presentation on a proposed “final phase” of the Derby STAR bond district, a public hearing will be held to discuss the possible expansion at the Derby City Council meeting on Oct. 26.

Plans for the expansion presented to the city council in September include the addition of a Crystal Lagoon manmade beachfront attraction, hotel, “glamping” (glamorous camping) site and more. The proposed attractions would be located east of the Derby Sports Zone site and north of the Target store along Tall Tree Road.

The city council will consider adoption of an ordinance officially expanding the STAR bond district by adding a 43-acre tract of land for the attractions after the public hearing. With the unique nature of the proposal, the majority of city council members noted they were willing to hear more – including from the public – as the expansion is considered.

Scheduled to start as close to 6:30 p.m. as possible, the Oct. 26 public hearing on the STAR bond expansion will take place in the council room at Derby City Hall (611 Mulberry Rd.).

Due to COVID-19, social distancing protocols are in place during city council meetings and masks – which can be removed when speaking at the podium – are encouraged among attendees. Community members wanting to sign up to speak do not have to do so in advance and will have five minutes to address the city council. Those signed up to speak may be asked to wait in the lobby until their turn (due to space constraints). Additionally, comments can be sent to the city clerk by noon on Oct. 26 and will be read aloud during the public hearing.

Click here for additional information on the proposed STAR bond expansion on the city's website.

Click here to view a public notice published by the city ahead of the hearing. 

Public Hearing – Oct. 26

Doug Chambers recognized for 35 years of service to Derby

Back in 2010, when former Derby Deputy Police Chief Doug Chambers retired from the department, he admitted he was ready for something new.

Getting a chance to work in the private sector and on his own projects was a “nice break,” but when an opportunity again presented itself to serve the city he now calls home he couldn’t resist. He has now served as court administrator with the Derby Municipal court for the past eight years.

“When I kind of ran out of projects, this opportunity came up. I always enjoyed working for the city. I had worked with the municipal court enough that I felt like the learning curve would be reasonable for an old man,” Chambers said with a chuckle, “so I applied for it and got hired.”

Now, between his work with the police department and the municipal court, Chambers has served as part of the justice system in Derby for 35 years – recently being recognized for his service by the Derby City Council.

As court administrator, Chambers manages the clerk’s office – including two court clerks and probation services. That also means meeting statutory requirements and making sure the money from fines – for violations of city ordinances like traffic and property codes – is sent to the state authorities.

It is the element of helping people navigate through some unfamiliar, sometimes tough, situations that Chambers admitted has driven him to continue in his roles working for the city.

“For me, I guess it just gives me more of a sense of contributing. I’m not just some place making a buck. I’m actually, hopefully, doing some things that matter. It’s rewarding,” Chambers said. “We’re here to help people get through something that they don’t normally experience, so we try to do it as pleasantly and efficiently as we can and help people at least get comfortable with the process that they’re going to go through.”

The Iowa native started work with the city as a reserve dispatcher while still serving in the Air Force before committing full-time and eventually working up to the role of deputy police chief with the Derby PD.

On top of getting his recent 35-year service award from the city, he was named the city’s employee of the year in 2008 – when he temporarily served as interim police chief.

Chambers noted his time working in the private sector gave him a greater appreciation for his role in civic service. Through his work with the Derby PD, he came to be prepared for something new every day. In either of his roles with the city, though, he admitted he is glad to be able to do his part.

“You find something you’re comfortable with, you’ve done it enough years that you feel like you’re at least competent in it, it makes coming to work every day easy,” Chambers said. “I just am grateful to be able to come in every day and try to do the best job we can, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Snapshot details graduation rates and more at Derby schools

Derby Public Schools is graduating students at a rate approximately 5% higher than the state average.

The information comes from a “state of the district” report shared at the Derby Board of Education meeting on Oct. 11. The report details graduation rates, recent assessment scores, and more.

Per the data shared on Oct. 11, Derby’s five-year graduation rate is 93.5% compared to the state’s rate of 88.6%. Since 2015, Derby has seen an increase in its graduation rate from 89.4% to 93.5%.

State assessment comparisons

The report also detailed information about how the district is performing in state assessments compared to the rest of the state. By and large, the state has seen the number of students passing state assessment decrease in certain areas over the last couple years, amid the pandemic and the stretch of remote learning during the 2020-2021 school year.

In the English and language arts category, the district’s rates remained the same compared to the 2019-2020 school year for fifth graders and eighth graders. Third graders dropped about 2 percentage points, which matched the state’s overall decline. Sixth graders dropped by 2 points, which was less than the state’s overall 4-point decline.

Fourth graders and seventh graders performed better than the state’s averages, improving by 7 points and 3 points respectively. Tenth graders saw the most significant decline, dropping by 7 total percentage points. The state’s average only dropped by 2 points.

In the math category, the district saw declines comparable to the state for third (-1), eighth (-3) and 10th graders (-4). Fourth and seventh graders performed better than the state average by 5 and 11 points respectively. Fifth and sixth graders lagged behind the state average by 1 and 4 points respectively.

Science exams are only taken by fifth, eighth and 11th graders. Fifth graders performed better than the state average by 2 points, eighth graders lagged behind by 7 points, and 11th graders remained neutral while the state saw a 3-point decline.

Enrollment numbers

Also shared at the Oct. 11 meeting were statistics on the district’s total enrollment. A head count was performed this fall.

That report indicates the number of students enrolled in Derby Public Schools increased by 190 students from the 2020-2021 to the 2021-2022 school year.

The schools that saw the biggest total increases were Park Hill (62) and Stone Creek (61). Some schools saw decreases in their total student population, with the most significant being Derby North Middle School (34) and Derby High School (33).

The head count report also detailed some demographic information about the district. Per the data, about 1,398 special education students are enrolled in Derby schools – a decrease of 25 students compared to last school year.

A total of 612 English-language learners (ELL) are enrolled in Derby schools, with the plurality at Cooper Elementary School (124) and Derby High School (150).

Finally, the rate of students on free and reduced lunches at Derby Schools is 43.6%, a decline of 1.6% compared to last school year.