Parents, community leaders rally for Hartford elementary school - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Parents, community leaders rally for Hartford elementary school

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Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School will be closing its doors due to budget cuts. (WFSB) Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School will be closing its doors due to budget cuts. (WFSB)

Furious parents of students at Hartford's Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School protested on Wednesday over the planned closure of the popular old building.

The MLK School could close for at least one year, due to the fact the district said there is no money for renovations.   

It's also a decision that is not sitting well with parents or their children. 

“We were so happy when we heard that the school is being renovated. We were so excited, but then to tell my children that the school is closing, that's not what I was expecting,” parent Mellesia Richards said.

The 356 students at MLK School will be learning at the Lewis Fox Middle School. The consolidation was planned months ago. It was only supposed to be temporary, but because of the budget issues on the state and local levels, the $65 million needed to fix three broken boilers and do other repairs.

Parents at the Wednesday afternoon rally to save the school said they feel betrayed.

“It's horrifying to know that my child is leaving from Martin Luther King to go to a basement,” Richards said.

MLK School has stood for about 100 years. Students will literally be across the street next year.

“It's certainly not a basement, it's the first floor of the school. The other half of hat floor is home to the Achievement First High School,” Hartford Schools Superintendent Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez said.

Some parents feel the move to Fox Middle School will ruin a community spirit built within MLK over the years. Roughly 100 community leaders and neighbors welcomed students on their first day of MLK School this year. 

Schiavino-Narvaez assured parents that they've gone classroom by classroom to ensure the space is there. While arrangements are being made for next year, officials know it can't be a long-term solution.

Parents said they worry there are no promises the money will ever return to rehab MLK School.

“We want that commitment that they'll take the time, figure out the plan that works for these families that will not disrupt 356 students,” pastor A.J. Johnson said.

Schiavino-Narvaez couldn't promise a return to MLK School, but she did promise members from this community would be involved and included in the decision. 

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