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Future Of Hartford's Milner School To Be Discussed Tuesday

Partnership With Jumoke Academy Among Possible Options, School Officials Say

By VANESSA DE LA TORRE

April 30, 2012

HARTFORD School officials plan to discuss a potential overhaul of Milner Core Knowledge Academy with the board of education Tuesday, including the possibility of forming a school partnership with Jumoke Academy.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto recently met with parents to talk about another revamping of Milner, which ranks among the lowest-performing schools in Connecticut.

"There are a number of options being explored, including a relationship with Jumoke," schools spokesman David Medina said Monday. He emphasized that "nothing has been set in stone" and said a factor in Milner's future is whether state legislators approve Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's education reform bill that proposes aggressive measures to turn around low-achieving schools.

Michael Sharpe, chief executive officer of the Jumoke Academy charter schools, confirmed Monday that "we've certainly had some conversations over Jumoke partnering with the city of Hartford on Milner School," but added that much depends on Tuesday's discussion. The board's special meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the school, 104 Vine St.

"It's important for us to hear what the board is saying and what the stakeholders are saying," Sharpe said. "We're in the business of working with struggling students and we believe we'd make a positive impact on Milner School."

Sharpe pointed out that some Jumoke students come from the same North End neighborhood where Milner is located. A section of Keney Park separates the Hartford schools. "We think we can play an important role in turning this school around," Sharpe said.

The school system closed Milner in June 2008 and reopened it a few months later with a new staff as the Core Knowledge Academy, one of the overhauls during Kishimoto's tenure as assistant superintendent for school design. The Core Knowledge Foundation, a nonprofit founded in Virginia by the educator E. D. Hirsch Jr., promotes a back-to-basics curriculum that includes arts and culture.

But students at Milner, a prekindergarten to grade 8 school, have continued to struggle on the Connecticut Mastery Test.

Jumoke Academy currently enrolls 488 students through eighth grade and plans to expand next academic year through its recent merger with the Hartford Conservatory.

Sharpe said 120 students would attend Jumoke's honors middle school on Blue Hills Avenue with a new focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Another 120 students would attend the performing arts-based Jumoke Academy Honors at the Hartford Conservatory on Asylum Avenue. Overall, about 50 seats would be added to Jumoke's middle school grades, an enrollment boost that would require state approval.

Jumoke officials announced last week that area opera singer and music educator Jolie Rocke Brown has been hired as the conservatory's director and the school's artistic director.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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