A group of school system employees, parents, students and community members will begin meeting next month to develop plans for renovating the struggling Weaver High School in the North End by 2016.
Superintendent Steven Adamowski named 18 members to the new Weaver renovation steering committee at Tuesday night's board of education meeting at Capital Preparatory Magnet School.
School administrators originally envisioned a light-filled structure for Weaver, which has languished over the past few decades in its prison-like building on Granby Street. But Adamowski delayed that proposal when some residents criticized what they called a lack of community consensus.
Before applying for state funding by June 2012, the school system needs approvals from the school board and city council. Those won't come until the steering committee offers its recommendations in October on what the "new" Weaver should be.
Adamowski picked Precious Ross-Ellis, Weaver's parent-teacher organization president, and Kevin McCaskill, the school system's director of school design, to co-chair the group. Ross-Ellis previously served on the board's superintendent search committee and has expressed support for a major Weaver renovation.
Other members include Lee Hunt, executive director of the Blue Hills Civic Association; Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, and former board member Andrea Comer, who will represent the North Hartford Education Task Force, a separate, new community group that has been seeking residents' input on the renovation.
Two students at the Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver and parent representatives from Simpson-Waverly Elementary School, Global Communications Academy and the Culinary Arts Academy are also on the school system's committee.
So are administrators from M.L. King School, plus Culinary Arts Academy Principal Matthew Conway and teachers Nancy Fortin and Raul Rivera. Ex-officio committee members are Jack Butkus, who manages the school system's construction projects, and John Carson, the University of Hartford's vice president of university relations.
Last December, administrators estimated that a renovation on the nearly 29-acre campus could cost upwards of $150 million. Adamowski has since backed away from those figures and said no dollar amount would be given until the committee finishes its job.
McCrory, whose district includes the Blue Hills neighborhood, said it was crucial for Adamowski and administrators to hear from residents as they move forward with a costly project. On its own, the North Hartford Education Task Force has gathered about 1,000 survey responses from the community, McCrory said.
The task force will hold meetings at 6 p.m. Thursday at Weaver and at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Parker Memorial Center, 2621 Main St., to begin discussing those findings.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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