Category Archives: Schools

UPDATE: Weaver Plays For CCC Title

by Categorized: City Activities, Schools, Sports Date:

Need something to do tonight? The Weaver boys’ basketball team will play Maloney-Meriden for the CCC championship after defeating Hartford Public High School in the semifinal Tuesday.

The title game starts at 7 p.m. in Central Connecticut State University’s Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain.

UPDATE: Congrats to Weaver, the CCC tournament champions. Read Tom Yantz’s story here.

Weaver High School guard KeAndre Fair, 3, draws a foul during the fourth quarter of Tuesday's CCC semifinal against Hartford Public High School. Weaver won 72-52. RICHARD MESSINA photo.

Weaver High School guard KeAndre Fair, 3, draws a foul from Richard Jernigan, 24, during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s CCC semifinal against Hartford Public High School. Weaver won 72-52. RICHARD MESSINA photo.

New Scholarship Named For Doc Hurley

by Categorized: Schools Date:

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving told us today that they have raised enough money to fund a new annual scholarship this year in honor of Walter “Doc” Hurley, a former Weaver High School administrator who mentored countless students in Hartford and started his own scholarship program in the mid-1970s.

As we’ve reported, state officials accuse Doc’s daughter, Muriel Hurley, of draining the Doc Hurley Scholarship Foundation’s funds. The state is moving to dissolve the organization.

Linda Kelly, president of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, said the new scholarship fund will continue Doc Hurley’s legacy. He died Feb. 9 at age 91.

Read the full story here.

Doc Hurley sits at the Parker Memorial Community Center last fall. Photo by Vanessa de la Torre.

School Choice Fair Planned For Saturday

by Categorized: City Activities, Events, Schools Date:

The state has organized another regional school choice fair in Hartford that will outline magnet options for students entering grades 6 to 12 in the 2014-15 year.

Hartford and Bloomfield public schools, Capitol Region Education Council, Goodwin College and representatives from the Regional School Choice Office are expected at the fair, which is set for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Learning Corridor, 43 Vernon St. Visitors can park in the Washington Street garage, organizers said.

Families interested in applying for Open Choice or a seat in a Sheff magnet school have until next Friday, Feb. 28, to submit an application for the lottery.

Updated: Kishimoto Accepts Superintendent Job In AZ

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has been named one of two finalists for the superintendent’s post in Gilbert, Ariz.

The Arizona Republic’s Karen Schmidt has reported that 82 people applied for the job in the 39,000-student district and that its governing board expects to decide on a final choice by mid-February. The board plans to meet tonight.

UPDATE: Kishimoto accepted the job.

As many know, Hartford is conducting its own superintendent search after the city school board rejected Kishimoto’s request for a contract extension last June.

Coincidentally, Ray and Associates, Inc., hired to lead Hartford’s search, is also the firm that advertised the Gilbert Public Schools vacancy.

Capital Prep’s Bridgeport Proposal

by Categorized: Earl O'Garro Jr., Schools Date:

Last week, Cityline brought you the news that Capital Preparatory Schools Inc. wants to open a charter school in Bridgeport in time for the 2014-15 academic year.

Now we have the lengthy application that the CPS management group, led by controversial Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry, submitted to the state for review: Hundreds of pages that you can peruse.

An excerpt from the proposal for Capital Prep Harbor School:

In the last academic year, 4,710 urban and suburban students applied for only 70 available seats at Capital Prep [Magnet School in Hartford]. It is this recognition that has facilitated discussions with the city of Bridgeport to support the Harbor School and allow CPS to replicate the Capital Prep model in some of the city’s lowest performing schools …. . The educational climate in Bridgeport is open to new approaches to education, making the conditions in Bridgeport ripe for introduction of the Capital Prep model.

The application states that the school’s location, identified by the city of Bridgeport, would be “the Bridgeport Technology and Trade Center, formerly the Singer Sewing Machine Company building” at 480 Barnum Ave. For the inaugural year, an estimated 250 students would attend the charter school, requiring a projected $2.9 million in expenditures, according to the proposal. (See Appendix W for 5-year budget statement.)

In the introduction, the proposal also asserts “the school’s achievement of sending 100% of its graduates to college.” Although Perry advertises that 100 percent of Capital Prep graduates have gone on to four-year colleges, he has told Cityline in the past that some of his graduates are unable to enroll because they can’t afford the high tuition. Here’s that story from 2012.

Coincidentally, that article also features Hybrid Insurance CEO Earl O’Garro Jr., who donated $10,000 to the school’s scholarship fund. O’Garro has since gotten into some hefty financial and legal trouble.

Blogger Jonathan Pelto, a major critic of Perry, has also written about Capital Prep’s charter school application.

State education department spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly told Cityline that all the applications submitted recently are being reviewed. They include a proposal from New York-based Democracy Prep Public Schools, a “no excuses” charter organization, to open an elementary school in Hartford in 2016. (That application is here.)

steve perry

Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry addresses his students. PATRICK RAYCRAFT photo.

What Hartford Seeks In Next Superintendent

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

After months of secrecy from Hartford’s superintendent search committee, a wish list of qualities sought in the next schools chief has finally emerged.

Ray and Associates, Inc., the Iowa firm hired to lead the search, has posted a six-page profile and job listing on its website. The consultant expects that it will present the ideal candidate by the end of March; the school board wants a new superintendent by July 1.

Job applications are being accepted until March 5.

Ray will be paid a $24,000 base fee and is contracted to find two to three finalists for the search committee to interview, according to Ray’s agreement with the city of Hartford, which was released to Cityline this afternoon after a Freedom of Information request.

The committee wants a successor to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto who can be a master communicator — someone who will promote “a realistic image of schools and the school district” and “be an effective champion for children’s education and the system that provides it,” among many other characteristics.

Here are some of the other qualifications listed in the profile:

  • “A record of delivering innovative, impactful, sustainable solutions. Incremental improvements may be part of the solution, but alone they will not meet the city leaders’ expectation that our school system be a real and respected asset for the larger community. Accordingly, the next superintendent must be innovative to his or her core — but we require a leader whose reputation is grounded on impact, not just ideas.”
  • “At minimum, the next superintendent will combine strong academic credentials with at least 15 years of successful professional and managerial experience in highly demanding environments.”
  • “Understand how education is impacted by local, state, national, and international events. The next superintendent has a deep understanding of the issues in Hartford.”
  • “Demonstrate the ability to utilize data for instructional decision making and improvement.”

The profile also notes that “among the assets available to the next superintendent are a mayor, board of education and deep bench of leaders from all sectors — business, academic, civic, nonprofit and faith-based entities — who are serious about the quality of education being provided to our children.”

The new superintendent would receive a salary “in the range of $250,000, excluding benefits,” according to the Ray and Associates’ job listing.

Kishimoto’s current salary is $238,000. Her contract ends June 30.

Capital Prep Applies For Bridgeport Charter School

by Categorized: Schools Date:

The state Department of Education received nine applications by its Jan. 24 deadline from organizations interested in establishing state or local charter schools in Connecticut. Today, the state released the list to Cityline after a Freedom of Information request.

Some highlights? Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc., the nonprofit management group run by Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry, wants to open a charter school in Bridgeport this year called Capital Prep Harbor School. As you might recall, Perry recently clashed with organized labor over the failed proposal to have his group take over SAND School in Hartford.

Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), the group that has brought you Jumoke Academy, seeks to open a Booker T. Washington Academy charter school in New Haven.

And Democracy Prep Public Schools, the New York-based charter organization, has proposed opening a school in Hartford in 2016.

The full list is below. The completed applications — usually large files — are still being processed, said Kelly Donnelly, an education department spokeswoman.

charter school apps

Memorial Fund Created For Shantay Drake’s Family

by Categorized: Schools, Shawn Wooden Date:

Our colleague Christine Dempsey reported on the tragic story of Tuesday’s Hartford apartment fire that killed 4-year-old Shantay Drake and her mother, Susan Therrien.

Shantay DrakeAt Jumoke Academy at Milner School, where Shantay was in prekindergarten, the school community has rallied to create a memorial fund at Bank of America to help support the girl’s family. Shantay’s sister, Kayla, is a first-grader at Milner.

Parents and teachers have started raising money for the fund, which received a $1,500 donation from Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Jumoke’s charter management organization, FUSE officials said today. The Day Pitney law firm, where city Council President Shawn Wooden is a partner, will manage the fund.

Donations may be sent to the Shantay Drake Memorial Fund, Bank of America, Albany Avenue Branch, 919 Albany Ave., Hartford, CT 06112.

A candlelight vigil is also planned at 6 p.m. today near the Milner playground.

Poland Won’t Seek Third Term As BOE Chairman

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Pedro Segarra, Schools Date:

Matthew Poland, the head of the school board, has revealed publicly that he does not plan to seek a third year as chairman when the board elects new officers in February.

“I told the mayor today that I will not stand for re-election as board chairman, and so this is going to be someone else’s job to lead the board of education in Hartford,” Poland said at Thursday night’s meeting of the city council’s education committee. He will continue to serve the remainder of his four-year board term, however.

“I need to move on and do the work I need to do with the library,” said Poland, who is CEO of the Hartford Public Library. (Serving as school board chairman is a volunteer post.)

Here’s a video recording of the meeting, courtesy of Achieve Hartford. Poland’s specific comments begin around the 43:20 mark.

UPDATE: In a letter to the board dated Friday, Poland says he will not seek another term as chairman. “I am an optimist at heart so I know that together, fully committed to our children, we can make a real difference.” More here.

Maribel La Luz, Segarra’s spokeswoman, told Cityline today that “once there is a complete board, the mayor will express his choice for chairman.” Segarra plans to appoint a new member to the board in the coming weeks to replace Cherita McIntye, who moved out of state.

Poland officially joined the board on Feb. 7, 2012, when he and four other mayoral appointees took their oath of office. At that same meeting, the board voted to make Poland its chairman. Poland kept that leadership position last February when the board held its annual election of officers, and has overseen a number of newsmaking decisions, including the board’s vote last June to reject Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s request for a contract extension.

During Thursday’s meeting, Poland said Ray and Associates, the Iowa search firm chosen to find Hartford’s next schools chief, is finalizing its contract with search committee co-chairmen Jose Colon-Rivas and Robert Cotto Jr.

Poland also told council members that the search panel has been working on a list of competencies that will be required of the new superintendent, who would take over on July 1. He said that list has not been finalized, and that, generally, the committee’s “proceedings are confidential because it’s a personnel matter.”

One of the traits the committee will be seeking is someone with a proven record of being a “collaborative” leader, Cotto said.

Following the tenure of former Hartford schools chief Steven Adamowski, who shook up the district with his reform plans, Poland said, “the next leader needed to be a builder, and that’s what we need to find.”

Later in the meeting, after Achieve Hartford! executive director Paul Holzer asked about attracting candidates to Connecticut’s capital city, Poland had this to say: “I think that Hartford, wherever we recruit, has a difficult time. The nature of what people hear about our city often limits candidates. And I think what we have to do is make sure we’re clear about both the local challenges that we face and that we want someone who will take that on. This is not a job where you come and … you’re comfortable all the time. You better not be comfortable. Right? You want to be challenged all the time. We have huge, huge mountains to climb.”

Poland also warned at the meeting against releasing — or “leaking” — information on applicants until the finalists are formally announced.

“Once you start getting the leaks of, ‘This superintendent has applied, that superintendent has applied,’ oftentimes good people will disappear,” said Poland, who is no longer serving on the search committee. New school board member Beth Taylor took his spot.

“So we do have to be very cautious about that until we have the final candidates,” Poland said. He added that the community will have the opportunity to meet the finalists before the board’s vote.

At the start of Thursday’s meeting, city Councilman David MacDonald — Hartford’s former school board chairman when Kishimoto was hired to lead the district — emphasized the importance of the search.

“I would dare say that the selection of the superintendent is the most important vote that you will take as a board of education member,” MacDonald said. “You need to select someone who will be a good partner with you.”

Hartford Teachers Ratify Three-Year Contract

by Categorized: Budget, Schools, Unions Date:

The 1,750-member Hartford Federation of Teachers last night voted overwhelmingly to ratify a proposed three-year agreement that would raise wages by 9 percent over the life of the contract, ending in mid-2017, union President Andrea Johnson said.

In 2014-15, the first year of the pact, the total cost increase for raises distributed across the union would be 3.19 percent. In the second and third years, respectively, the wage increases would amount to 3.04 and 2.86 percent, Johnson said.

The union’s current contract with the city schools expires June 30. Under the agreement that would begin July 1, existing union members can keep their health insurance, but they will also have the option of enrolling in a new health savings account plan instead of their PPO. New teachers hired after July 1 can only enroll in the HSA plan.

The agreement maintains the current length of the school day, Johnson told Cityline.

“There is nothing really major as far as change,” she said Friday. “I think the rank-and-file is happy with it.”

The city council must approve the HFT agreement before it is final, possibly within the coming weeks. The school board approved it last month.