Superintendent Attends NRZ Meetings in the Asylum Hill and Blue Hills Neighborhoods

SPOTLIGHT on EXCELLENCE   Issue 23   February 11, 2013

Superintendent Attends NRZ Meetings in the Asylum Hill and Blue Hills Neighborhoods

 
Last week, Dr. Christina Kishimoto attended two city Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) meetings in the Asylum Hill and Blue Hills neighborhoods.  At the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association meeting the Superintendent gave the community a status on Hartford Public Schools.  There was a great turnout from various community stakeholder groups including West Middle School (6-8) Principal Lynn Estey, State Representative Matthew Ritter, representatives from the Hartford Police Department, corporate partners, community-based organizations, and residents.   
 
 
The conversation was very engaging with many great ideas and concerns raised.  Dr. Kishimoto challenged the community to speak out and speak up for better schools.  She noted, if a school is failing over 80% percent of its children then something is wrong and, as a community, we cannot be afraid to exercise our options whether it be school closure, redesign or repurpose.  Three major issues were raised from community members including English as a Second Language (ESL) with comments centered around providing an opportunity for standardized testing in students’ native language which would be a better indicator of skills and knowledge. Hartford Public Schools currently makes up 12% of the state’s ESL population; clearly our success educating ESL students is the state’s success. Dr. Kishimoto challenged the group to join her in advocating for new ESL policies and practices at the state level noting, “this is a state level issue, something our legislature can help push.”  Other topics covered at the NRZ meeting included an update on Sheff v O’Neill, how Hartford has benefitted and next steps as well as the West Middle renovations and relocation plan.
 
At the Blue Hills NRZ meeting, the community specifically wanted an update on the proposed new Weaver Campus.  The Superintendent provided a breakdown of the Weaver project timeline, National Academy Foundation (NAF) academies that will be in the new Weaver High School, possible community access to the field house and pool wing as a city recreation center, and the University of Hartford’s role and partnership in the project.  The meeting was well attended by various community stakeholders and elected officials.

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