Cleanup Planned At Hartford's Burns School On Saturday
Principal: Community To Help Revamp Failing School
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
March 09, 2012
When Principal Tim Sullivan Jr. arrived at the Burns Latino Studies Academy in a mid-year transfer, one element stood out right away.
"I found a place that was not visually appealing," Sullivan said Friday.
Sullivan came from the regional Classical Magnet School in Asylum Hill, where a $36.4 million renovation was completed about six years ago.
At Burns, a failing pre-K to Grade 8 neighborhood school in Frog Hollow, the computer lab was "in complete disrepair," he said. Broken furniture filled storage rooms. Bulletin boards were lackluster. The yard needed lawn work.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto appointed Sullivan as interim principal in early February, an abrupt leadership change that Classical families and staff criticized. But Sullivan said he welcomed the challenge and believes changing Burns' environment is a step toward turning around the school.
"We want to make sure every student in Hartford walks into a building that makes them feel special and cared for," Sullivan said.
Twenty-six new computers were installed at the school Friday with grant money the school system expedited.
And Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., students, teachers, parents and community members are expected to show up at Burns to rake leaves, build a field for baseball and soccer, haul out the broken furniture, decorate the bulletin boards and begin setting up the school auditorium for a student theater production, school officials said.
All are invited to 195 Putnam St. Volunteers are asked to "bring their own rakes, shovels, clippers, blowers, tools, posters, letters and other bulletin board materials," according to a statement from the school system. "Expertise is welcomed but not required."
"One of my main goals is to empower the Burns community to take ownership of their school," Sullivan said. Recently, the school governance council — a group of Burns parents, teachers, students and community representatives — helped develop a 2012-13 budget that would include money for a Burns guidance counselor, field trips, and turning the upper grades into a middle school model, he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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