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Weaver Renovation Proposal To Be Presented To School Board

Vanessa De La Torre

November 25, 2011

The delayed proposal to renovate Weaver High School will soon come before the board of education after recommendations from one community task force, school officials said.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said this week that the North End Action Team, led by the Blue Hills Civic Association, suggested four specialized academies for Weaver architecture and urban design; performing arts; culinary and hospitality; and arts and sciences.

Kishimoto plans to recommend three of the academies to the board, with the performing arts becoming one element of the broader arts and sciences program instead of its own academy. A reason, she said, is because the school system is working on expanding the Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts to the high school level.

School administrators are developing design specifications to present to the board, which is expected to get an update on the Weaver proposal at its Dec. 6 workshop meeting.

Board Chairman David MacDonald said the board might consider a first reading of the renovation plans next month, with a vote possibly set for January.

If the board and city council approve the project, the school system would then submit a school construction grant application to the state. School officials have stated that they want to renovate the prison-like Weaver building "as new" by 2016. The project would rely largely on state funding.

Weaver currently has a culinary arts academy with a new, professional-grade kitchen. A journalism and media academy also located in the nearly windowless, '70s-era structure on Granby Street is expected to move to the former Barbour School on Tower Avenue by summer 2013.

As an assistant superintendent, Kishimoto first presented plans last December to overhaul the 370,000-square-foot Weaver into a light-filled facility with academies in health sciences, culinary arts and hospitality, and possibly architecture. That proposal had a projected cost of up to $150 million, although school officials later backed away from that estimate.

When school administrators introduced the plans, some residents immediately criticized the potential cost and what they said was a lack of input from North End residents. Former Superintendent Steven Adamowski decided early this year to delay the proposal until a community task force was convened to gain consensus.

Kishimoto said that the North End Action Team's "suggestions are right on target with what students are asking." In addition, she said the group chose not to endorse a health sciences academy for Weaver.

"I'm very comfortable with that because a health sciences expansion can be added to the nursing academy" at Hartford Public High School, Kishimoto said. "So we can still have that option for the city."

The city's high schools are included in Hartford's choice program, which means that a student who lives near Bulkeley High can apply to attend Hartford Public or Weaver.

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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