Hartford superintendent presents school restructuring plan

Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, superintendent of Hartford Public Schools. (WFSB file)

Changes could be on the horizon for the Hartford Public School System.

Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez presented her recommendations on how to restructure, reconfigure and consolidate the district.

The recommendations stem from what the superintendent's office is calling a "comprehensive review and study of the district" as well as ongoing engagement with the community.

Torres-Rodriguez said she wants to ensure high-quality educational opportunities for all students.

Under the plan, four schools would close over the next three years. They include Batchelder, Simpson Waverly, Capital Community College Magnet and the Culinary Arts Academy schools.

Several schools would also be relocated and every pre-kindergarten through 8th grade school would be transformed into two separate schools.

Torres-Rodriguez said the proposal would save the district $15 million a year. Though, it would result in more than 20 percent of the district kids going to a different school.

At the meeting on Tuesday, student Rubi Rivera said she doesn't want to see her Batchelder school close.

"It feels like a second home and I ask you to please not close down our school," Rivera said.

Torres-Rodriguez said she understands the emotions but said the district must make some difficult decisions to save it from financial ruin.

On Tuesday, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin spoke at an event and said a district overhaul is necessary in large part because the large number of magnet schools in Hartford have had a negative impact on local schools.

“Because of that we've had a lot of the students move out of the neighborhood schools and in many cases, that's given them a chance to go to great schools and get a great education but it also has concentrated need in neighborhood schools that are under-enrolled,” Bronin said.

The board is expected to vote on the recommendations at its regular meeting on Jan. 23.

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