Temporary Relocation of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School
(HARTFORD, Tuesday, May 31) — In June of 2015, Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez informed the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School community that the school would relocate in the summer of 2016 in preparation for a building renovation project. The MLK families expressed a desire to remain together as a single school community. The recommended space to honor this request, which is the only location that could accommodate the entire school population, is the Lewis Fox Middle School building across the street.
At that time, Hartford Public Schools was operating under the premise of a shutdown for school construction. As we have all learned by now, the plan was based on a lack of clarity of the significant fiscal challenges facing the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford. It was admittedly difficult to forecast the domino effect that the changes in the State’s financial climate would have on those plans. Moreover, due to the City’s fiscal crisis, construction projects across the city were reconsidered. As such, the City of Hartford did not fund the renovation of MLK for next year nor did the State of Connecticut construction grant go through as had been expected.
“I share the frustration and disappointment of the MLK community. The City of Hartford had some difficult choices to make, but my hope is that reasonable solutions can be found through Equity 2020 and through investment by the City and State,” said Dr. Narvaez.
Dr. Narvaez is committed to the sustainment of a vibrant and healthy MLK school community. Because MLK renovations have been put off year after year, moving forward with the relocation of the students from the MLK building is first and foremost about addressing the urgent need to provide an adequate environment for children to learn and thrive. Given the conditions of the MLK facility at 25 Ridgefield Street, the relocation effort must move forward. The Martin Luther King school building, which is nearly 100 years old, has been in disrepair for far too long. The most serious pending matter is the outdated boiler system. Out of the four original 80-year-old-boilers, only one of them remains functional. This boiler is liable to fail at any time, which would likely provoke an emergency relocation during the school year. This is an unnecessary risk to take, particularly during the winter months, and it is unreasonable to impose this risk on our families.
Given the current fiscal scenario in our state and city, the Hartford Public Schools recently launched a significant long-term facilities planning project: Equity 2020. The purpose of this work is to help optimize our resources to ensure student success through the alignment of facilities, geography, academic pathways and school choice. This resource alignment work, which is long overdue, will position the district for success in this new financial reality. The work of Equity 2020 is ongoing, and the framework of the plan will be shared in the coming weeks for community feedback and input. The long-term plan for MLK will be part of this larger framework. However, determining the location of MLK students for the upcoming school year requires immediate attention in order to provide a place that is optimal for learning.