Hartford school board approves closure of four schools over 3 ye - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hartford school board approves closure of four schools over 3 years

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Residents voiced their concerns about the proposal (WFSB) Residents voiced their concerns about the proposal (WFSB)

On Tuesday, Hartford Board of Education members unanimously voted in favor of a school consolidation plan.

The highly-anticipated vote took place on Tuesday night, after the superintendent presented a proposal to restructure the district. 

Under this plan, four schools will be closing over the course of three years. 

At the end of this school year, the district will close Louis W. Batchelder Elementary School and Dr. Frank T. Simpson-Waverly Elementary School.

Capital Community College Magnet Academy will phase out at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

The building of John C. Clark Elementary School, which is out of service due to contamination concerns, will be relinquished immediately by Hartford Public Schools, officials said in a press release, and Central Office at 960 Main St. will be relocated to other school buildings when the lease expires in 2020.

Tuesday’s meeting followed another one that was held at Batchelder on Monday night, where residents told Channel 3 that they don’t want officials to close their beloved school. 

This plan was proposed by Hartford Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, who said restructuring the district would not only ensure high-quality teaching and learning for all students within the district.

It would also help save the district $15 million a year.

Deomarys Serrano-McDonald went through the Hartford school system and her experience then lead to the crossroad she's at now. Her two youngest go to Environmental Sciences in Hartford, while her two oldest are in a Manchester High School.

“Unfortunately, what we expected for high school here in Hartford, wasn't giving us what we wanted so we sent them out there,” Serrano-McDonald said.

She supports the vote, in hopes that the schools will improve by the time her two youngest are of high school age.

“Education itself. The structure they have is not stable,” Serrano-McDonald said.

Other parents, especially those who have children at the four schools closing, don't agree.

They don't want to see their learning community torn apart.

“I think that the school is perfect, there's nothing to be fixed there. All of us, we're all family, there's nothing to be fixed in that school,” said Ana Reyes, of Hartford.

“I want to thank our school community as a whole, our students, families, staff and partners for engaging in this critical process of redesigning our district,” Torres-Rodriguez said in a press release. “This has been an intense and challenging process for many of us. But we are facing the challenge by making the difficult decisions that have been delayed for far too long. It is time to change. We can do this together.”

“We commend Superintendent Torres-Rodriguez for her diligent work in this crucial matter,” said Board Chairman Craig Stallings. “We want to build a school district where families will no longer have to depend on a random education lottery system to meet their children’s needs. Now all our students will have the resources to reach out for their best hopes and dreams.”

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin issued a statement that said “This evening, the Board of Education voted unanimously to support a difficult but necessary reorganization of the Hartford Public Schools.  The Superintendent and the members of the Board are working to put the district in a better position to provide the support, programming, and pathways necessary to help students succeed.  I know that for the school communities and for the families directly affected by school closures and other changes, this process is a painful one.  To those families, please know that the Superintendent, the Board, and the City as a whole recognize how important it is to provide support during this time of transition. The Superintendent and the Board are focused, first and foremost, on the all-important goal of providing a quality education to kids in every neighborhood.  I want to commend the Superintendent and the Board for their willingness to take on the tough mission of making change, and I want to thank all of the students, parents, teachers, and others in the Hartford community who participated in this process.”

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