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.
“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.”