Hyde School Stays Put, For Now

Facing opposition from parents, students and staff, Superintendent Garth Harries has decided not to try to save money by moving Hyde School from a costly swing space into a wing of Hillhouse High this fall.

Harries announced that plan in a press release distributed at Monday’s school board meeting at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School.

Hyde will remain at its rented North Haven campus next year, Harries announced. He said Hyde will move to Hillhouse High in the fall of 2015.

The decision capped months of conversations about the future of Hyde School of Health Sciences and Sports Medicine, a 200-student magnet high school in the New Haven public school system. The school has been squatting in a North Haven building as it awaits a permanent home. Harries this year revived the unpopular idea of moving the school into an underused wing of Hillhouse High School, a comprehensive school on Sherman Avenue.

Harries argued the move could save $750,000 to $1 million in rent and transportation costs; he also argued that Hillhouse is the best option for a long-term, permanent home for Hyde.

Hyde parents, students and staff balked at the idea of the move, citing concerns about student safety and losing Hyde’s identity as an independent school. They said they feared that moving the school to Hillhouse would amount to closing it and making it one of the new “academies” inside Hillhouse High.

Harries ended up making a compromise: He agreed not to move the school this fall. But he said he has “made a firm decision” to move it to Hillhouse in time for the 2015-16 school year.

Melissa Bailey Photo“Given where we are with the other changes that we’re making at Hillhouse, we wanted to be [sure] we can adequately plan for the sharing of the space in the building,” Harries said.

The district is applying for state money to physically split up Hillhouse High into three separate “academies,” each with their own principal.

Harries said he has heard from Hyde parents, students and staff a “clear passion around preserving their educational community” and not being absorbed into Hillhouse.

Harries said he “will fight to keep Hyde as an independent school.”

He said the district will involve the Hyde community in “planning for the transition to the new location” and determining how the Hillhouse space will be configured.

“The decision creates an exciting opportunity that will allow students at Hyde to take advantage of specialized spaces designed for the health sciences and sports medicine theme, as well as high-level science labs,” Harries wrote.

Hyde will have its own “self-contained” space at Hillhouse, with a separate entrance and its own sign, Harries said.

“We believe that Hyde can thrive in this new location and a year of collaborative planning will ensure we get the transition right,” Harries said in the release. “We have a lot of work to do over the next year, but we are confident that we can build a strong, vibrant future for Hyde on the Hillhouse campus.”

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posted by: Tell The Truth on May 13, 2014  8:34am

Hyde is a wasted educational effort. Get rid of it and provide an appropriate place of education for those students.

posted by: Razzie on May 13, 2014  8:49am

So Hillhouse will have 3 separate academies, each with its own principal; and Hyde will be added with it’s separate principal and space…And of course we will need a separate set of Assistant Principals for each, as well as administrative office staff! WOW!!! That’s one helluva lot of administrative firepower to cram into 1 academic space.

Seems like the tail is wagging the dog…again. Thinking of the current budget battle being waged over the BoE, at some point when do we say “Enough”? I find it extremely short-sighted to keep plunging headlong into the most expensive service delivery model when everyone knows we can’t afford the system we have.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on May 13, 2014  10:02am

There should be no “firm” decisions made by the superintendent or the Board of Education regarding any educational policy whenever there is widespread PUBLIC opposition. If the superintendent succeeds in overriding the desires of parents, teachers, staff members and members of the community regarding the issue of moving Hyde into Hillhouse, Garth Harries is a dictator, democracy is dead in New Haven, and we, the people of New Haven are first class fools!
Opponents of the superintendents plan have won round one. Organize now to continue the fight to oppose this plan to show the superintendent how “firm” WE can be when we strongly feel that something should not be done.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on May 13, 2014  11:17am

What’s the estimated cost to make the necessary renovations to Gateway’s former campus? Pay for the renovations instead of the exorbitant lease for the North Haven site, move Hillhouse and Hyde into the former Gateway, augment with additional vocational programs, eliminate the overlap in staffing, and make the current Hillhouse into a dedicated middle school for grades 6-8.