Hartford Superintendent Proposes Closing Weaver High School Building At End Of Academic Year
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
March 27, 2013
HARTFORD —— Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has proposed shuttering the Weaver High School building at the end of this academic year and temporarily moving the school's culinary arts program to the Lincoln Culinary Institute.
The nearly 40-year-old Weaver facility on Granby Street is expected to undergo a $100 million renovation if the state legislature approves a construction grant in the next few months.
While construction might not begin until spring 2015, Kishimoto said this week that she wants to relocate Weaver's Culinary Arts Academy "sooner rather than later" to space at Lincoln Culinary, a professional school on Sigourney Street, for a three-year period starting in 2013-14.
Kishimoto told the board of education's school choice and facilities committee that the district has an ongoing partnership with Lincoln Culinary Institute, but she emphasized security reasons for wanting to move Weaver's student body and teachers this year.
"I am not comfortable keeping that school open for such a small number of students," Kishimoto said.
Weaver was built for more than 2,000 students. The current enrollment is about 550 students in two specialized programs, the other being the Journalism and Media Academy, which will be located in a newly renovated building on Tower Avenue next academic year.
That would leave about 300 culinary arts students on the 29-acre Weaver campus. The 370,000-square-foot school building has many access points that must be monitored, Kishimoto said. If teachers and students remain at Weaver next school year, the district would look to install more security cameras and hire more security guards, she told board members.
School administrators estimated that moving to Lincoln Culinary Institute would cost the district an additional $150,000 in 2013-14 compared to current Weaver costs, largely due to leasing expenses and transporting some of the high school's commercial-grade kitchen equipment to the new location.
Heating and maintenance of the Weaver building will also continue that year, with or without students, said Don Slater, the schools' chief operating officer. Hartford's renovation timeline calls for a yearlong design process to begin this summer; construction should be finished by fall 2017.
Elizabeth Brad Noel, a board member and retired Weaver guidance counselor, said she prefers that the Culinary Arts Academy stay at Weaver for another school year.
Board member Richard Wareing told administrators that he wanted a cost breakdown of the options. Details will be provided to the board during the budget preparation this spring, Kishimoto said.
Once renovated, Weaver High School will house three career-oriented academies: hospitality and tourism, the arts and sciences, and architecture and urban design. The target enrollment will be 1,354 students.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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