How we got here
The City of Hartford’s economic problems did not just happen. They did not spring up when Mayor Bronin was sworn into office. They did not emerge last year or even the year before that. (more…)
When we err, we welcome corrections.
The Mayor’s Office sent the following letter to prove that the superintendent was not “unaware” of the budget changes. Notice the date on this letter:
However, the budget that the superintendent produced and presented to the Board of Education was dated April 7, 2015. That document can be read below.
Mayor Segarra has released his recommended budget, saying “this Budget is fiscally prudent and accountable to all municipal stakeholders,” but there have been some questions as to how accountability is being defined.
Richard Wareing, Hartford Board of Education Chair, let known his displeasure with what he says are now confirmed rumors about Segarra’s “intent to use over $12m of the Board’s money to balance the City’s budget for FY 2015-16” and an “approximately $3.5m in Board money to balance the FY 2014-15 budget.”
On this matter, Wareing says he was left in the dark, learning only through “informal sources within City Hall” that OPEB would be poached.
Wareing, in an email to Mayor Segarra, wrote: “I should have the courtesy of a call from you. If you have time for cocktails with Brad Davis and well-heeled contributors, you have time to call me to discuss matters which significantly impact the education of our children.” (more…)
Those who attended last week’s Board of Education meeting may have come away believing that the Moylan Montessori community largely supported the move of the school from Hartford to West Hartford, even if only a handful of teachers and parents were present to speak. Most of the questions were made through the PTO or came from members of the school board.
As it turns out, that vote to go ahead and pursue the site at the American School for the Deaf has not been received so well.
Stakeholders are circulating a petition asking for that decision to be suspended. They say that parents were only notified a few days before the vote and were not given full disclosure that the invite to “ask questions” or “show support” before the Board of Education was going to be tied to something so binding, so soon. (more…)
Much of the school superintendent’s transition report is predictable, as its framework had been provided to the public in June. Since coming to Hartford, the new superintendent gathered input from meetings, focus groups involving 700 participants, and surveys completed by 1000 community stakeholders.
What is surprising about the report is not the content in itself but that what has been common knowledge — problems that have persisted for years — is acknowledged in writing by the new superintendent:
“I want my [tenure as superintendent] bookends to be about equity,” Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez said.
“It’s not just about surviving. It’s not just about graduating. . .. It’s about thriving.”
Immediately following Monday’s press conference to unveil Schiavino-Narvaez’s entry plan, she met with the transition team.
Larry Leverett, a former superintendent and Assistant State Commissioner of Education, is the chair of that eleven-member team, which also includes Jennifer Allen, Paula Altieri, Andres Alonso, Richard Lemons, Sheryl Petty, Enid Rey, Kelvin Roldan, Maree Sneed, Jonathan Swan, and Robert Villanova. (more…)
Tuesday night’s Hartford Board of Education meeting was well attended for two main reasons: the recognition of the late, great “Doc” Hurley and the appointment of seven new principals. The audience was filled friends, coworkers, and well-wishers. But once these agenda items passed, the crowd headed for the doors. But many were able to see the final, conflicted actions of a lame-duck, and now rudderless, administration.
The most agonizing of these was the discussion and debate of one of the hallmarks of the Kishimoto administration: the Teachscape teacher evaluation system. The program was on the agenda since the yearly contract was up for renewal. The annual fee for the evaluation system is $206,800. In discussing the evaluation system, the district pointed to the ease of managing well over 1,800 staff members and the wonders of a paperless system. They also pointed to the staff surveys, which found nearly 70% of the respondents happy with the evaluation system. But as board members Dr. Shelley Best and Robert Cotto pointed out, the district’s data revealed that well over 1,300 staff members were dissatisfied with the Teachscape evaluation system or did not even participate in the surveys.
Best and Cotto both pushed the district to explain the benefits of the system that went beyond the ease of electronically managing over 1,800 teachers and staff members. Best pointed out that at no point in the presentation did the district highlight how teachers were benefiting and growing from Teachscape, which is supposed to be the goal of any teacher evaluation system. She also preferred the $200,000 to be spent directly on the teachers in the form of professional development. Board member Mike Brescia also wanted to know why only teachers supportive of Teachscape were mentioned, especially since more than 50% of the entire teaching staff did not participate in the survey. (more…)
Remember when the Hartford Public Schools ran ads to promote its school choice program and steer city students away from magnet schools? Now, Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) — which manages a number of magnet schools in the areas — will serve as the lead partner for the Clark School. The Clark Turnaround Committee reached this decision, unanimously, today.
No part of this process went smoothly, beginning last autumn. After parents protested the attempt to give Clark over to Achievement First, a charter network, Mayor Segarra stepped in to support the resistance.
During this months-long turnaround process, members of the Turnaround Committee claimed that an ultimatum was served up: vote for the Friendship School — a D.C.-area charter school system — or else Commissioner Pryor would step in and take over. There were denials that such an ultimatum had been issued, but multiple sources involved in the process claimed to have been told this or witness to it. The reality was that consensus was required; if no consensus was reached, then Commissioner Pryor would have been able to step in.
Then, there was the dog and pony show at the beginning of April in which the Board of Education voted in favor of…does anybody actually know what that was about? Even parents and community members who were brought out to rally beforehand were in disagreement over what their demands were, despite wearing shirts suggesting unity. One community member, wearing a t-shirt in solidarity, did not understand the issue, and wanted to see the public schools (more…)
Once the contract negotiation process is completed, Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez will be “reintroduced” to the public, according to a message from the Mayor’s Office. This is expected to happen in early July.