New building recommended for Hartford's PCB-plagued Clark School - WFSB 3 Connecticut

New building recommended for Hartford's PCB-plagued Clark School

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The John. C. Clark School  (WFSB photo) The John. C. Clark School (WFSB photo)

A school plagued by potentially hazardous materials may have to be rebuilt.

Superintendent Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez announced this week that Hartford Public Schools recommended that a new building be constructed for the Clark Elementary School.

Input about a potential new building will be received from family and community members, Schiavino-Narvaez said.

“I promised that Clark Elementary School would not disappear as a school," she wrote in a news release. "I continue to hold true to that promise by recommending that we move forward with a new neighborhood JC Clark Elementary School in Hartford’s northeast neighborhood.

Mayor Luke Bronin called this an important first step.

“I believe that the superintendent’s recommendation represents the best first step towards strengthening Hartford schools in the northeast neighborhood," Bronin said.

More than a year ago, school officials closed the Clark School after tests revealed potentially hazardous levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The discovery was made while a sprinkler system was installed.

Since then, they've been looking for ways to make the building safe for students.

"Here we were promised to go back to our building in September, and now they're telling us we're not going back for a couple of years," said Gloria Gonzales, who is a Clark School parent.

Parents said in a meeting with the superintendent, she said students could remain at the Wish or Waverly schools, or apply to a magnet school through the Choice program.

Gonzales said she'd love to have her children in those schools, but after the year-long struggle, she said they shouldn't be placed in a pool or waiting list, they should be fast-tracked.

"These kids have been going through this, let's give them the chance to go to these magnet or CREC schools," Gonzales said.

School officials said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved a project to find the source of the PCBs. Though a full report has not been completed, preliminary results showed there being no viable solution.

In the meantime, Clark students have been taught at several area schools.

"I appreciate the sacrifice that families, students and staff have made this past year during this difficult transitional period," Schiavino-Narvaez said. "I also want to acknowledge and thank the principals, staff and families for your amazing work and resilience under very challenging circumstances."

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