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School Redesign Procedure OK'd

Questions Remain About Assignment Of Teachers In Affected Facilities

By RACHEL GOTTLIEB FRANK, Courant Staff Writer

October 17, 2007

The school board approved a plan Tuesday that roughly lays out the process for redesigning schools that consistently perform poorly, but it left vague questions about what will happen to teachers and other staff at schools that go through transformations.

Under the new policy, Hartford schools that perform substantially below the proficient level for two consecutive years without improvement, or fail to make adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law for five consecutive years, may be redesigned or their buildings may be used for a different purpose.

The policy also states that when schools are being redesigned, consideration will be given to achievement of the goals of the Sheff v. O'Neill order to desegregate the city's schools.

Next year, the district plans to redesign Hartford Public High School, M.D. Fox Elementary School, Burns Elementary School and Milner Elementary School. And it will close Barnard Brown as an elementary school and move Capital Preparatory Magnet into the building.

The district is also looking for space to open four new schools, such as a Montessori school and another school modeled after the Breakthrough Magnet School.

Central office administrators have approved a menu of design options for the new and redesigned schools. But it's up to the design teams of parents, teachers and community groups to select their own designs, said Christina M. Kishimoto, director of school redesign.

Cathy Carpino, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, expressed the angst that some teachers are feeling. She asked whether teachers who work in schools going through redesign will be allowed to apply for jobs in the newly designed schools or whether long-time veterans should begin looking for jobs in other districts.

Kishimoto said that contractual obligations will be honored but that it isn't clear yet where teachers who work in schools undergoing redesign will land.

Hartford Public High School, which will keep its name, may be transformed into as many as five independent high schools.

Superintendent Steven Adamowski said the University of Connecticut School of Nursing has agreed to be a partner with a nursing academy at Hartford Public. One of the school's features will be two courses through which students may earn certification as medical assistants or as emergency medical technicians. Students who pass the classes will be admitted to UConn nursing school when they graduate from high school, Adamowski said.

City Council Green Party candidate David Ionno, whose daughter attends Hartford Public, told the board he objects to the plan to convert Hartford Public into a series of vocational schools rather than remaining a comprehensive high school.

"He's experimenting with us and I don't like it," Ionno said of Adamowski.

In his report to the board, Adamowski said that Hartford Public recently learned that it will be fully accredited with the New England Association of Schools & Colleges. Until now the school's building had remained on probation for loss of accreditation though its curriculum was removed from probation in 2001.

While that's good news, Adamowski said, accreditation does not reflect the achievement of the students. Hartford Public is the lowest performing high school in the city and one of the lowest performing schools in the state, he said.

In another matter, several people who addressed the board, including Carpino, angrily objected to an e-mail sent by the district's communications director advising district employees to refer to the school system as a "system of schools" rather than calling it Hartford public schools.

Those who were offended by the e-mail said they view it as an attempt to privatize the school district and said they refuse to stop using Hartford Public Schools.

Mayor Eddie A. Perez, school board chairman, admonished those who complained, saying that he was dismayed by their attention to "little things" when the district is dealing with much weightier matters.

"The name of the Hartford public schools has not been changed and there is no attempt to privatize it," Perez said.

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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