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Neighborhood School Fix Floated
by Thomas MacMillan | Sep 17, 2013 7:07 am
Even if you can’t get your kid into the school in your neighborhood, you might still be able to send her to the school in your “quadrant.”
New Haven’s new schools chief offered that idea to aldermen concerned about neighbors who can’t get their kids into their neighborhood schools.
In a briefing with the Board of Aldermen at City Hall Monday evening, Superintendent Garth Harries suggested the “quadrant” idea as a a change to the lottery system for New Haven public schools.
The change would divide the city into four sections and give students priority placement at the schools in the quadrant they live in.
That way, if a kid loses the lottery to get into the school down the street, at least he wouldn’t be sent to a school on the other side of town.
Monday’s meeting was an opportunity for Harries (pictured) to introduce himself to the board for the first time as superintendent. He was promoted from assistant superintendent just six weeks ago.
Harries faced questions from several aldermen about the difficulty their constituents have getting their kids into the schools in their neighborhood.
“We have to make the process simpler and easier to navigate,” Harries said.
West Rock Alderman Carlton Staggers said he has an upset constituent whose child was twice denied entry into a magnet school that lets kids from Branford in.
Harries said the funding for New Haven’s interdistrict magnet schools requires that the schools take in about a third of their students from the suburbs. He said it’s a “tough situation.”
“We’ll have to really look at it,” he said.
How “Central” Is Central Office?
East Rock Alderwoman Jessica Holmes brought up a different kind of access: not students into schools, but parents into the central office. She said the Board of Ed headquarters at 54 Meadow St. are impenetrable for parents.
“It functions as a fortress,” she said. “It’s literally hard to get into.”
She suggested that the Board of Ed consider moving the offices to another part of town entirely.
Holmes later said that although the BOE offices are now in a “prime location” in relation to the train station and downtown, for parents of public schools kids, it’s inconvenient. It’s hard to get there by public transportation, and hard to park there if you drive, she said. Inside, a guard asks you to sign in before you can beyond the first floor.
Harries said that moving the location of the central office is not a priority, but making it more accessible is. This year, the school board put out a “welcoming table” in the lobby of the building, staffed with people who handled parent questions during the first four weeks of the year.
“I’ve certainly heard 54 Meadow is unfriendly,” Harries said after the meeting. He said the district is analyzing how the welcoming table worked out, to see what it can do to make the central office more welcoming.
Tags: Garth Harries, Board of Aldermen
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The geographic center of CT is in Berlin but centralizing services there wouldn’t make much sense. If “findability” and accessibility are paramount, why aren’t they located in city hall?
Why can’t BOA central office be moved to the Green so it is easier for non-elites to get to?
Welcoming Table…that’s hysterical. How can you get to the welcoming table if you can’t get into the fortress?
The whole area around the train station is chaotic and unnavigable by car; partly because its where city grids have always collided, partly because of the connector (which used to be a waterway) and partly because of our continually frustrating one way street system.
No need to worry.He will be bring in the Charter Schools.Look at Kipp.
Kipp Quadrant I
I will repeat what I have posted in the past.
54 Meadow should be vacated by NHPS and the BOE.
Central office staff should be eliminated by 75%.
The remaining 25% should move into space(s) at the many beautiful new schools.
With today’s interactive technology, almost all meetings that the remaining upper level staff need to have can be done virtually or by interactive technology.
Imagine the efficiency and the savings.
Also, the remaining essential staff will be more accessible to parents.
The trick will be to make sure the savings will find its way to the classroom instead of the current administrator’s “friends and family plan.”
I believe I know how to really make New Haven the “light on the hill” of public education.
Care to have a cup of coffee, Mr. Harries?
As I read this, the way to cover a district-wide payroll which is greater than that of the New York Yankees — or any other professional U.S. sports team — is to deny City students spots in the City’s best public schools in favor of kids from the suburbs.
In whose book is all this okay?
Brutus, i believe Harries is holding a number of public meetings/hearings as the new Super.
You should plan of making one of them and meeting with him there -perhaps then you can schedule that coffee.
I think “quadrants” are a great option. They would allow people choice while still strengthening ties in neighborhoods though schools! Perhaps we can minimize the bussing system by utilizing “walking buses”.
Teachergal - the parents were first met by the staff working the Welcome Table - not the guard. They didn’t have to sign in with the guard unless they needed to go to a specific department.
Alderwoman Holmes, I think the employees at 54 Meadow should be afforded the same security measures as those in other buildings. I don’t see why signing in with a guard is such a problem for parents. It takes less than minute.
The idea of quadrants, in a city that’s as segregated as New Haven, only perpetuates the segregation and guarantees that educationally, there will be the haves and the have nots. One way to improve education significantly is to ensure that schools are socioeconomically integrated, which is then primary aim of the magnet school, at least in theory. Under Mayo, the magnet school system was used as a less visible but powerfully important third rail of political patronage in that he routinely ensured that the children of those with political power got into the schools they desired. This practice, not unlike the quadrant idea, simply intensified an already troublesome stratification in New Haven Public Schools. If you want improve New Haven schools try these things: 1) Create magnet schools that intentionally and deliberately use family income as a qualifying characteristic. 2) support all teachers by having high quality professional development, and instructional materials for all children. 3) focus intensely on providing innovative, reseacr-based supports for Black and Latino Boys, as they are having the greatest difficulties in school 4) develop a teacher evaluation program that focuses on teacher practice, and whose exclusive purpose is to improve teaching 4) stop looking at children as data points and address the whole child 5) Stop coddling parents by making excuses for them when they are disengaged and specifically target them,and not just their children, for intervention services.