Hartford Parents, School Officials Discuss 'Turnaround' For Milner
Milner's First Turnaround Committee Meeting Held Friday
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
July 13, 2012
HARTFORD — — They gathered Friday to discuss the future of Milner Core Knowledge Academy: Parents and union leaders, community workers, administrators and a state education consultant packed around a table in the school library.
If the state picks Milner for the $7.5 million Commissioner's Network, city school board member Richard Wareing said a major focus should be providing ample services to English Language Learners and students with special needs who make up much of the enrollment.
But the lawyer also glanced around the room.
"The clocks don't work; the carpet needs to be replaced," Wareing said. The off-white walls need a sanding and paint.
"There is some correlation between our better schools and the quality of the physical environment," he continued. "This is a new beginning. This is a new start. Make it new... Make it more inviting."
The state has asked Milner and three other low-performing schools that volunteered for the 2012-13 network — Bridgeport's James J. Curiale School, High School in the Community in New Haven, and Norwich's John B. Stanton School — to submit their "turnaround" plans by the end of July.
Hartford is proposing a management partnership with the Jumoke Academy charter organization that would begin by late August when students return for classes at the prekindergarten to grade 8 neighborhood school. Accepting the state intervention is a minimum three-year commitment.
Under Connecticut's new education reform law, turnaround plans must require recommendations from state-mandated committees at each potential network school. Friday was Milner's first of four scheduled committee meetings in the next week and a half.
"We're interested in not imposing plans upon you," Michelle Rosada, the state education consultant, told the Milner and Jumoke representatives.
Rosada said the state recently led an operations and instructional audit of Milner School and that a report should be ready for the committee next week.
Auditors interviewed parents and staffers about Milner, investigating areas such as the school environment, family and community relationships, school leadership, the use of time in a day and the curriculum.
The turnaround plan must include strategies that address those topics.
"Our overriding theme is, it's a family school," said Michael Sharpe, Jumoke Academy's chief executive officer. "We try to create an atmosphere in the school where there's a collaboration like a family."
But aside from academics, Sharpe said, is the issue of safety. Outside the library is a community walkway that allows anyone to cut through the Milner property to get from Vine to Magnolia streets. One possibility, Sharpe said, is establishing a gate that would close the walkway during school hours.
Teacher Mario Marrero told the group it's not uncommon to find broken glass in Milner's playground.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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