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After Parents Fight Move, ESUMS Stays Put

by Melissa Bailey | Jul 5, 2011 11:19 am

(23) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, East Rock, School Reform

Melissa Bailey Photo The city’s high-performing science magnet school will remain on State Street next year, after parents protested moving their kids near drug addicts and sex offenders on Ella Grasso Boulevard. Another school, Domus Academy, will head to the Boulevard instead.

The district had announced plans—and signed a lease—to relocate the expanding Engineering & Science University Magnet School (ESUMS) to a swing space on 540-560 Ella Grasso Blvd., as the school awaits a permanent home to be built in West Haven.

Parents showed up in force last month to oppose that move, saying the new site would be unsafe for their kids.

Last week, the city school board answered their plea. The board approved a lease to let ESUMS stay for another year at a space rented from St. Stanislaus church at 804 State St. in East Rock.

Incoming PTO President Dawn Gibson-Brehon said she supports the solution, which emerged from a new collaboration with parents.

However, the State Street spot won’t be big enough to fit the growing student population next year. ESUMS currently serves about 226 students in grades 6 to 8; it plans to add 88 sixth-graders as well as create a first-ever 9th grade class.

Students in grades 6 to 8 will stay on State Street, according to schools spokesman Chris Hoffman. The new 9th grade will move to a city swing space on Leeder Hill Road that’s currently occupied by Domus Academy.

Domus Academy, the city’s privately run “turnaround school,” will move to the Boulevard space that the ESUMS parents rejected, according to Hoffman.

Domus parents couldn’t be reached for this story.

At ESUMS, some parents had opposed splitting up the school between two sites. Gibson-Brehon said there weren’t any spaces, other than the Boulevard site, that would be big enough to fit the expanding school. The school is adding one grade of 88 students each year; it intends eventually to serve 616 students in grades 6 to 12.

“As much as we would have loved to keep everybody together, it’s just not feasible,” Gibson-Brehon said.

She reported a newfound collaboration between parents and the administrators who are making decisions for the school. When she and other parents spoke out at the school board last May, they protested that they were kept in the dark while the district signed a lease to move the school to the Boulevard. Parents weren’t consulted before that decision was made, she said.

After that meeting, parents formed a six-person working group to consider potential sites for the school. The group met with the schools superintendent and even attended a site visit of the space on Leeder Hill Road.

“We’ve been invited to the table, which is what we’ve been asking for all along,” Gibson-Brehon said. “We’ve collectively come up with some ideas to make this work.”

The best outcome of the new collaboration, Gibson-Brehon said, is that the district has agreed to keep working with parents as it continues to scout sites in West Haven, near the University of New Haven campus, to build a permanent home for the school.

Past stories on ESUMS:

Parents Oppose School’s Move
Science Magnet School Relocates Again
City Looks West For New School Site
After Layoffs, Schools Reshuffle
A Rush To Dig
A New Star School; Warnings About Others
Science High’s Ready, With An Arabic Twist

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posted by: anon on July 5, 2011  11:38am

At least both of the ESUMS locations can be reached on foot or by bike, something that should be a “must have” for any high school location. 

The Boulevard is a death trap, with numerous recorded traffic fatalities in the past few years.

Not sure how the new West Haven site will figure in.  I doubt that it will be the most accessible spot in New Haven unless improvements are made.

posted by: Peculiar on July 5, 2011  12:52pm

An elementary school was housed there for five years without incident.  I wonder what the big deal was??? If age group 4 year old, up to age 10 were able to attend school every day what’s wrong with a 14 year olds attending????  Just saying….

posted by: Concerned Citizen on July 5, 2011  1:07pm

The importance and power of parental involvement in the educational life of their children cannot be over stated.  In this story parents were able to stop this engineering and science (ESUMS) NHPS from being moved to Ella Grasso Blvd.  Their active parent group met with the NHPS decision makers.  After that meeting, parents formed a six-person working group to consider potential sites for the school. The group met with the schools superintendent and even attended a site visit of the space on Leeder Hill Road.

“We’ve been invited to the table, which is what we’ve been asking for all along,” Gibson-Brehon said. “We’ve collectively come up with some ideas to make this work.”

The best outcome of the new collaboration, Gibson-Brehon said, is that the district has agreed to keep working with parents as it continues to scout sites in West Haven, near the University of New Haven campus, to build a permanent home for the school.”

This is what is possible when parents are truly involved.  Every school in New Haven needs to have an active PTA.  Parents who are not involved, or who pay no attention to these important issues must hold themselves partly responsible when things are going wrong in their children’s school, and these things are not getting corrected or addressed. There NEEDS to be an effective, respectful and committed partnership between parent organizations and school administrators.  Nothing less will do. Remember the NH Promise.

While this outcome (change of site) will not always be possible, this collaboration shows that the NHPS administration will respond when they see that parents are fully engaged and are at the negotiation table.  The same is true at Wilbur Cross High. If there is no active PTA at the school, all it takes is 3-4 parents to meet somewhere and start an active PTA. The principal cannot prevent parents from starting a PTA. Don’t wait on her to give her approval; network during the summer to ensure there is an active PTA at WCHS in Sept. 2011.

posted by: Confused on July 5, 2011  2:00pm

What message does this send to parents and students at DOMUS?  The site is not okay for students at a “high performing magnet school”, but is okay for New Haven’s most at risk middle school students.  Oh, and we are going to take your current space and give it to the expanding “high performing magnet school.”  This is not okay.  What notice did DOMUS parents get of this change?  I suspect none.

posted by: streever on July 5, 2011  2:04pm

Great job parents!

Ella Grasso Boulevard is a high-speed death trap which encourages pollution and would have serious negative impacts on the health of your children.

Particulates from gas guzzlers roaring past at 60 mph (I used to live near Ella Grasso—this is not hyperbole) make it a nightmare for the respiratory system of small children.

I really can’t believe the city ever contemplated placing a school on this road.

posted by: anon on July 5, 2011  3:09pm

“What message does this send to parents and students at DOMUS?”

I hope you aren’t trying to criticize parents at one school just because they care about their own students’ health. 

Though the city and Board of Education may be trying to drive a wedge between the middle class and lower-income students in order to meet their own political ends, we shouldn’t stoop to their level.

Parents at DOMUS should get more involved, and as Streever points out, the City needs to be much more forward looking when it comes to ALL students’ health.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on July 5, 2011  3:56pm

For lack of available space, Amistad Academy has located a school there for the last 5 years (with great success I might add).  Adult Ed has been there for how many years?  The methadone clinic and the Columbus House too.  Soon to be DOMUS?

All of the organizations I listed above serve the public - and mainly the young.  Are some people’s lungs and safety more important than others?

posted by: streever on July 5, 2011  4:12pm

FIX:
Definitely not—but that is the message communicated by locating any structure there with the road way in the current configuration.

Ella needs a serious diet. Narrower lanes, less lanes, bike lane, and a wide, comfortable sidewalk.

There are athletic fields, residential zones, and small commerce all along this high-speed raceway (I have actually seen it used for racing on numerous occasions), and until it is turned into a proper urban road, I do not understand why the city would attempt to move ANY public serving building here.

posted by: anon on July 5, 2011  5:25pm

Ella Grasso resembles a scene from Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” 

I have trouble imagining that any of our top public officials have spent much time experiencing it from somewhere other than behind the windshield of their SUV/Prius (i.e., the perspective of a kid).

posted by: trainspotter on July 5, 2011  6:21pm

It’s funny. When parents aren’t involved, they get bashed in the papers. When parents are involved… they get bashed in the papers. Parents at every school have the opportunity to get involved and make a difference in their child’s education. Too few in New Haven do. To criticize one group of parents because they have done just that, is ridiculous. Maybe the reason this is a “high performing” school is because these students DO have involved parents. All the “promises” in the world won’t make up for a lack of commitment at home.

posted by: solsbury on July 5, 2011  8:32pm

its disappointing the NHI wont allow the comments section to have an honest discussion… fine..
ill just point out again…
people were fine with putting AchFirst and now Domus kids at this site, urban kids….
but there is still groups of parents whose goal is to keep their kids separated from urban kids and the city: honors kids at our biggest high school, some parents in a elite neigborhood for a K8 school, and now these suburban parents at ESUMS.

posted by: Threefifths on July 5, 2011  9:50pm

posted by: streever on July 5, 2011 4:12pm
FIX:
Definitely not—but that is the message communicated by locating any structure there with the road way in the current configuration.

Ella needs a serious diet. Narrower lanes, less lanes, bike lane, and a wide, comfortable sidewalk.

There are athletic fields, residential zones, and small commerce all along this high-speed raceway (I have actually seen it used for racing on numerous occasions), and until it is turned into a proper urban road, I do not understand why the city would attempt to move ANY public serving building here.

Raed this. When Bikes And Cars Collide, Who’s More Likely To Be At Fault?


Cars do seem the more likely culprit since they’re bigger, more powerful, and sometimes at a disadvantage spotting the spindly cyclists who dart around city streets, where most accidents happen. But when we looked at data from the few states where it’s available, cyclists seem almost as likely to cause an accident as motorists.

Ed Beighe, who mans the Arizona bike blog Azbikelaw, crunched some numbers on fault from his state and found that 44 percent of fatalities from bike-car crashes in 2009 were determined to be the fault of the cyclist, while 56 percent were the fault of a motor vehicle driver. The most common collision was when a driver struck a cyclist from behind.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety published data on contributing factors in bike-car crashes. It found that in 2009, cyclists were at fault in 49 percent of crashes, while drivers were at fault in 51 percent. Failing to yield to right of way was the most frequent cause of the snarls.


http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/05/20/136462246/when-bikes-and-cars-collide-whos-more-likely-to-be-at-fault


Deadly tension on the roads — cars vs. bikes
Accident toll rises as gas-shocked commuters opt for bicycles

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25695376/ns/us_news-life/t/deadly-tension-roads-cars-vs-bikes/

Bikers must take some Blame also.

posted by: mom on July 6, 2011  3:45am

awaiting a new school to be built for them???....what about hyde leadership…..MANY of those students move onto higher education at top state and private colleges….how LONG must they wait for a school of their own? and they ill not care where you put it.

posted by: Walt on July 6, 2011  6:34am

Streever

If , as you say, in Arizona and Minnesota, responsibility for accidents   is almost equally shared between   drivers and cyclists, if we consider that there are 10 times as many drivers than cyclists,  does not that indicate that 10 times as   many cyclists are   irresponsible   as are car drivers?

You are right when you promote bike safety and I believe I am right when I point out the average bike rider is a road hazard because of   flagrant ignoring of road- using   laws.

(Not a statistician, and have no idea   whether car to bike ratio is 10 to 1 as above is correct—just a made-up ratio like Anon uses-,but the same idea would hold with the true ratio, don’t you think?)

Many drivers are asking for accidents, it is true,  but the bike-folk are much worse, it seems to me..

Do you know the correct ratio?

posted by: solsbury on July 6, 2011  9:03am

to mom, finally… I hope people are starting to realize the inequity in NHPS and that central office fat cats stop catering to one group of parents… stand up for your rights!
to streever, etc…. isn’t the adult ed complex at ella grasso far away from the street? who cares about your bike issue, when we should be talking about the quality of the building urban kids and teachers spend 7 hrs a day in? Another example of people not knowing the real issues that city students have to deal with..

posted by: yuokiddinme on July 6, 2011  9:11am

How do you explain sending under performing students to a place you will not send higher performing students? This is outrageous on so many levels. Give the ESUMS parents credit for being involved but you have now continued the downward spiral for those without family support or whom struggle each day with whatever prevents them from succeeding. New Haven Public schools administrators who approved or supported this should be fired. If the the goal is too make the struggle tougher for this group of students then you succeeded. This is absurd.

posted by: streever on July 6, 2011  9:40am

@Walt (and 3/5ths):
Bias in assigning fault is a well-known fact in collisions, and many collisions are unreported when they concern a bike (or pedestrian) versus an automobile.

Walt, I would encourage you to do some in-depth research on it, but if you just were to spend 1 hour on Elm Street at York and count actual incidents of dangerous behavior, you’ll see the cars outnumber the pedestrians and cyclists by an incredible order of magnitude. I don’t really think that anyone thinks a cyclist doing a rolling stop at a stop sign on a quiet street is creating more danger than a driver blowing through a walk signal at 45 mph in a 25, and yet I see that over & over again on Elm Street.

I understand that people are frustrated seeing cyclists skirt the law, but it really blows my mind that people don’t think 45-60 mph traffic on quiet, 25 mph residential streets is a bigger concern.

Can anyone HONESTLY say that they believe that drivers running red light after red light on Elm, through pedestrian signals with walkers, is less dangerous?

Solsbury:
I’m sorry, the skyrocketing asthma rates and vehicular deaths are not an issue for everyone, but just for a cyclist? We are all free to assign value to whatever we choose to. I look at the trillions of dollars spent on accidents, building massive roadways to nowhere, and wasteful government spending on highways and see trillions of dollars that could be used for improving the lives of kids and others.

posted by: Walt on July 6, 2011  12:16pm

Streever

Can’t disagree re comparative danger of 45 mph cars on Elm St.  which I seldom visit these days,  but assume may be rife with bikes because of the Yalies

Highest bike ratio I see is Htfd Tpke/Ridge   Road   areas in Hamden/NoHaven where ratio is still below 10 to 1   but the percentage of bike riders who ignore the rules here is pretty high.

Nevertheless the figures you quote re the other states are ssurprising and I would be really shocked if they were similar here( or even on Elkm St.)  even with the careless bike riding which I see so often around here..

No study planned,  just filling the need to protest occasionally because of the high ratio of bike folk who post on the Independent.

.

posted by: streever on July 6, 2011  1:05pm

@Walt
....

The grim reality = is 115 people die per day due to preventable automobile accidents in the United States, at an annual cost of $230 billion to the general public.

We spend an additional $78 billion a year on congestion alone.

We spend another 240-276 billion per year MAINTAINING the existing system alone.

Some of us see the relative cheapness of increased mass transit, biking, and walking, and think that is a smart direction for an urban center (like New Haven) with a huge base of jobs and economic activity.

Do you honestly think that New Haven should not invest more in building non automobile infrastructure?

Why?

Spending on bicycle related infrastructure actually has a net positive increase on our economy, whereas spending on car related infrastructure has a net negative decrease on our economy.

No one is saying you are a bad person for driving—no one is trying to eliminate your car or ability to drive. All we are trying to do is improve safety for those who choose not to or can not choose not to drive.

Children, the elderly, people who live within close proximity to their homes/schools—should we be actively building a system to disenfranchise them?
...

We have lost every key battle in New Haven, as the city steam rolls resident and citizen opposition in the interest of short-term economic gains which will result in long-term debts and costs born by the next round of municipal leadership.

Does anyone really need to help the established system counter us?

posted by: LOL on July 6, 2011  2:13pm

What an embarrassment to Reggie Mayo and John DeStefano, the entire BOE and NHPS central office!

Wasn’t it a little more than a month ago when DeStefano pontificated about the need for teachers and schools to get parents more involved?

Guess that doesn’t apply to himself, the BOE or any NHPS officials ... do as I say, not as I do!

Also, perhaps Mayo should spend more time communicating with parents on key issues than writing ... defense pieces for incompetent administrators.

posted by: Threefifths on July 6, 2011  2:48pm

posted by: streever on July 6, 2011 9:40am

@Walt (and 3/5ths):
Bias in assigning fault is a well-known fact in collisions, and many collisions are unreported when they concern a bike (or pedestrian) versus an automobile

If Bias is the case in assigning fault,They why is New york and other states doing this.


City Councilman wants to slap speedy bike messengers, food delivery cyclists with license plates
BY ERIN EINHORN
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF
Thursday, May 26, 2011

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-05-26/local/29602348_1_plates-bike-cyclists


How come you bikers in New haven will not push for this.

NYC To Start Recording Accidents Between Bikes, Pedestrians


http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/689204-NYC-To-Start-Recording-Accidents-Between-Bikes-Pedestrians


And for those who think bicycles will not kill pedestrian.Check this out.


Westfield woman whose husband died in bicycle accident joins New York Mayor Bloomberg in signing bike safety law
Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011, 6:30 AM
By Ryan Hutchins/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger


http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/02/westfield_woman_whose_husband.html

 

Like I said you Bikers must take some Blame.

posted by: Parents & Mrs. Moore on July 6, 2011  6:20pm

If only enough courageous Wilbur Cross parents could unite to express a public protest about the administration of their children’s school and to demand a change.  Sadly, Mrs. Moore has had a chilling effect on parental involvement, as is evidenced by the inability of the PTO to have elections last month because there were no candidates.  That’s some victory, Mrs. Moore.  I suppose you would say that it’s the parents’ fault, but you don’t want the parents to be involved anyway, just as you don’t want high school students to think for themselves.

An alternate idea, perhaps less intimidating to the parents, is to have a group of parents demand a meeting with the superintendent and the mayor, without Peggy Moore.  These must be parents who won’t be snowed by mumbo-jumbo, such as what the superintendent provided the NHI in his attempted defense of Mrs. Moore.

posted by: @solsbury on July 6, 2011  7:31pm

Solsbury, the majority of the students at ESUMS and all of the honors students at Cross are urban students. Why do you assume that urban young people aren’t part of these programs?

Cross isn’t even a magnet—every kid there is from New Haven, and the honors classes include every race, every neighborhood, and every type of background. ESUMS blends students from all over New Haven with suburban students. The New Haven students at ESUMS are no different from those at DOMUS or AF.

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