Facing budget, enrollment and performance problems, Hartford’s new school superintendent has little choice but confront it all.
Monday night was the first big step and involved more than school leaders, and all of the problems were laid out for parents.
Then, they were able to give their priorities for Hartford redesign of its massive school district.
“A lot of people have just lost faith in the Hartford school system and they're just preferring to send their kids elsewhere,” said parent Nicole Sturges.
At the public meeting on Albany Avenue’s Artists Collective, Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez spelled out Hartford’s immediate problems: aging buildings, decreased enrollment, budget uncertainty and low performance, which are a lot of negatives that need to be turned around.
“I do have my nephew who will entering the special education program and to get teachers to actually come to work to Hartford that is a big concern for me,” said parent Patricia Dixson.
Monday night was only the first of a series of talks district leaders will use before creating a future plan for schools.
Some plans are already known.
In 2019, several schools will be housed in the new Weaver High, part of a $100 million project, according to a district spokesman.
There is also a proposal for the state to fund a project to rebuild the popular MLK School, but it’s far from finished.
There are no plans to close other schools unless of an emergency in the near future.
In 2018-2019, though, a school spokesman says major changes will be taking place it will likely involve building closures, and perhaps an overhaul of grade configuration.
An official also said the new comprehensive plan for Hartford schools is expected by December, before school choice begins.
Hartford schools completed their budget, but expect changes since the state budget has yet to be completed.
Their total budget for this year was $420 million, which represents a 2.2 percent increase over last year’s budget.
According to the district, almost a third of Hartford resident students attend a school outside of Hartford Public Schools.
The majority of those students, about 7,000, attend other public schools and about 1,000 additional students attend private schools.
Enrollment has fallen from 20,000 in 2008 to a little over 16,000 for the 2014-15 school year.
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