Parents and community leaders are outraged over the Hartford school district’s decision to close an elementary school.
School officials said like many districts, they are being forced to do more with less money next year, but parents said their children will be the ones short-changed.
At the beginning of the school year, community leaders and neighbors welcomed every student to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School on the first day, but the doors will be closing for good this year.
“At Martin Luther King Jr. School, there’s an awesome community spirit,” said parent Natalie Langlaise. “Shutting down the school is such a drastic move. There’s no longer term plan so why are we shutting down the school.”
School officials said one way to close the budget gap was a decision to not renovate the near 100-year-old school. The district said the building is in need of repair, including its boiler.
After parents spoke up, the district decided to relocate the more than 300 school children across the street to the Fox Middle School.
“We want Martin Luther King School in our community,” said Precious Ross-Ellis, who is organizing a protest for Wednesday. “Promises were made to renovate it. Yes they don’t have the money right now to do it but we’re willing to wait.”
“You can’t just disrupt 300 families and then we have the staff without a long term plan,” Langlaise said.
Parents said that building can’t hold more than 300 children and claim there are only two bathrooms and mixing kindergarteners with eighth graders is a recipe for disaster.
On Wednesday, parents are planning to protest outside of the school.
“It is time to do something. Unfortunately we have been turned aside, pushed aside, trampled on for years and it really kills our hope and motivation,” Langlaise said.
Hartford Public Schools superintendent said in a statement “I share the frustration and disappointment of the MLK community. The City of Hartford had some difficult choices to make, but my hope is that reasonable solutions can be found through Equity 2020 and through investment by the City and State.”
“If they think they’re going to take the name Martin Luther King School, I don’t think it’s going to happen…not in my life time,” Ross-Ellis said.
The protest will be held in front of the school on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.
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