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Poof! Two Middle Schools Disappear
by Melissa Bailey | Aug 15, 2013 3:20 pm
Posted to: Schools, Newhallville
Just two weeks before school starts, the school district combined a budget-cutting quest with an academic quest as it eliminated middle-school grades at two of the city’s lowest-performing K-8 schools.
The school district has eliminated grades 6, 7 and 8 from MicroSociety Magnet School and grades 7 and 8 from Lincoln-Bassett School. Both schools suffer from low enrollment in those grades—and both schools have been struggling so much that the district had put them on a short-list of failing schools that may be in line for “turnaround” overhauls in 2014.
The decision aims to fill a surprise $3.5 million budget gap that Superintendent Garth Harries inherited when he took over the school system three weeks ago. It will save $600,000 in teacher salaries, because the district can now transfer teachers from those schools instead of making new hires.
The decision affects 51 kids at MicroSociety. The school was so under-enrolled that there were only 12 kids in the 8th grade. Lincoln-Bassett had 26 kids in the 7th grade and 14 in the 8th.
Now parents are scrambling to find new schools for their kids before school starts on Aug. 28.
“We absolutely regret the timing of this decision,” said Harries (pictured) in a press briefing Thursday at the school board headquarters on Meadow Street. He said he was not aware of the structural deficit until he was presented with an audit that showed a $3.5 million budget hole for a second year in a row, meaning the pattern will likely repeat this school year unless the district makes cuts.
Harries said the decision will not just bail out the schools budget, but improve kids’ education as well. “A very small 8th grade doesn’t offer students the kind of preparation” they need for high school.
Newhallville Alderwoman Delphine Clyburn was at Lincoln-Bassett Thursday morning with a handful of parents as they were learning the news.
“They have mixed feelings,” she said. “Some people feel like 12 kids in the 8th grade is good because they get more attention.”
Others worried that there aren’t enough spots at other schools for all the kids. Overall, Clyburn said, “It’s just not fair that they didn’t get a chance to really organize themselves around it.”
MicroSociety Principal Rosalyn Bannon said parents are “disappointed” in the last-minute decision, but some are happy to be presented with high-quality options for their kids.
School staff called parents at both schools and met with them Wednesday and Thursday. Each parent got a list of about a dozen schools to choose from to send their kids. The list includes top-performing schools like Worthington Hooker and Edgewood, as well as magnet schools like Barnard and Ross/Woodward, as well as some neighborhood schools, said Bannon, who took over the school last year.
MicroSociety is a magnet school serving New Haven and suburban kids at a Hamden swing space. Lincoln-Bassett is a neighborhood school in Newhallville. Lincoln-Bassett kids won’t have to leave the neighborhood if they don’t want to, Harries noted: They’re being offered spots at nearby Wexler/Grant and King/Robinson.
Ten teaching positions are affected by the cuts, each holding an average of $60,000 salary with benefits, Harries calculated.
Darryl Brackeen, who taught 7th- and 8th-grade social studies at Lincoln-Bassett last year, said his class sizes ranged from eight to 15 kids—far below the district average of 20, and the contractual maximum of 27. Brackeen said he decided to leave the school and move on to another job opportunity before he learned of the grade elimination.
The downsizing at Lincoln-Bassett comes as a new principal, Yolanda Jones-Generette, takes over the school. Jones-Generette replaces Ramona Gatison. She has been tasked with undergoing a year of planning, then launching a possible “turnaround” effort in the fall of 2014, which would entail replacing staff and potentially changing work rules. The school was one of only a handful that saw drops in overall satisfaction on school surveys last year.
Harries said eliminating grades 7 and 8 “allows the school to really focus on the K to 6” grades.
Harries said he does not expect to eliminate any more classrooms or grades to close the remaining $1.9 million budget gap. He and his staff are looking at whether any part-time positions can be eliminated, among other potential cuts, he said.
“No one is happy about having to make these decisions,” said Harries, “least of all, me.”
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This is a good first start - but shuttering some schools would be even better. We have more schools than any other school district in the state. The willy nilly construction program has now saddled us with debt and operating costs that exceed our ability to pay. It’s past time for some very tough decisions.
why is it that in order to eliminate a past due budget gap($3.M, Harries knew nothing about, the gap cuts always begins at the bottom:
“In addition to teachers, Harries and his staff are looking at whether any part-time positions can be eliminated”,
such as substitutes, coaches, custodial, part time personnel.
According to the 2013/14 school budget, part time personnel is budgeted at $18,128,354M.
According to the same school budget, full time personnel, including the teachers above, is budgeted at $172,162,026M.
Henry Fernandes has just recently recommended cuts be made at the top from the elite administrators class.
Executive staff = $2,614,737.
Directors = $775,647.
supervisors = $3,333,162.
Management = $4,,637,563.
Teachers = $121,048,787.
So while Harries is hard at work cutting teachers to balance a $3.5M deficit from the 2013 budget, He might as well, At the same time, start paring down the 2014 budget just enacted and passed with a $9,480,081 defcit.
Announcing the opening of a new charter school in 3…2…
posted by: NotMyFirstName on August 15, 2013 6:27pm
Announcing the opening of a new charter school in 3…2…
You are on point.In fact check this out.
NYC authorizing staff report directly to Garth Harries, CEO of the Office of New Schools, where the charter schools office is housed. Chancellor Klein receives all staff recommendations regarding charter approval, renewal, and revocation, and, in turn, passes on his recommendation to the State Education Department.
Rushed planning is poor planning. Are we really to believe that any of these students will get into Hooker? instead of spreading the kids around, couldn’t they stay where they are this year, and plan over the course of the year so that this is done in a systematic way? By simply looking at numbers, Harries show how never leading a school puts him at a disadvantage. What about the connections that these students and parents have developed at these schools. What about the connections the teachers have?
You can’t get me to believe that if Hooker had the same class sizes that, puff, 7th and 8th grades would simply disappear. It just wouldn’t happen. At the very least, the students could have been merged into one of these two schools to make a larger class and not shuffled all over the city.
Harries does this without parental consultation and input because, as I have posted before, he has no relationship with Black people and foes not care about them. He would never do this at Hooker or Edgewood because he fears the parents would engage in organized protest.
New Haven is getting what it asked for- a Broad Academy leader who sees schools not as communities, but as a business. Unfortunately, our kids will be the ones to suffer an educational meltdown similar to, if not worse than, the financial meltdown we saw several years ago.
“NotMyFirstName” “Threefifths” and “True that” are all correct.
While I like someone who survived 1L (like I have), I don’t like someone associated with Broad Academy and the like.
However, I want all who read this to consider this:
Who have allowed these reformers to infiltrate our public school system?
The parents, students, paras, and teachers?
Or the public school administrators and local elected politicians and their appointees?
Your answer will dictate the next logical step:
Eliminate the public school administrative bureaucrats. (And the NHFT union management)
Right on to the people and their teachers!
“Competition among American schools is healthy.”
New Haven is now experiencing a market-based vision for transformative change in urban education.
As we begin a new school year, the education executives at central office seem be dedicating their time and energy to maximizing class size. Many, many teaching positions have been left empty and job responsibilities will expanded to the unreasonable. Unfilled teaching positions will continue to be cut and the “Budget Crisis!” will be addressed. Adults that work with children will be expected to do more with less.
Class sizes for our neediest children are increasing.
Most of the new teaching hires have zero teaching experience.
Oh, don’t forget the “Budget Crisis!”
There might be a few sacrificial administrative cuts for show, but these will be well offset by millions of dollars spent on “consulting”. These highly influential positions will be paid for by private dollars from billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad, so there will be minimal public oversight of their hiring or work. These new executives will “help us” realize a new “talent strategy”.
Superintendant Harries has been trained that urban districts must focus on measurable “outcomes” to chart their success.
I don’t agree that schools and their children can be neatly distilled to numbers on a spreadsheet. This warped thinking about our schools creates a dangerous mindset. How else can we explain why executives would slice off five classrooms two weeks before the start of school? Ultimately, it is cruel and destabilizing treatment of our least fortunate children.
But this kind of “disruptive change” is the precise mantra of the modern day school “reformers”.
Are YOU going to disagree with Superintendent Harries?
Are we aiming to emulate the “miracle” in Hartford?
Check out his friends.
The Faces of School Reform.
Led by a band of billionaires, the school-reform movement has gained increasing momentum during the past decade, spreading its reach into urban communities across the country. But instead of truly transforming public schools, private funders want to restructure them. They insist running schools like a business is the solution. At stake is not only control over hundreds of billions of dollars in local, state and federal funding, but also the future of the next generation of schoolchildren.
@Brutus2011.You are correct.But we must Not forget the Control School Board.
@ True that
Your point about community is one that is central to this discussion. By 7th and 8th grades kids have developed social networks in their schools that are very important to helping them through the difficult days of adolescence. It is certainly not the fault of the 12 or 15 kids that stay at Lincoln-Bassett that NHPS administration allows their school to be struggling year after year, leading to dwindling enrollment. They are not the ones who should be bearing he brunt of the ineffective leadership on Meadow Street. Their school community should be protected for them, especially as they prepare for high school. The social challenges that some of the kids will face as they transition could derail their preparation for high school more than anything Harries fears if they were allowed to remain in their schools.
It is absolutely absurd that Harries didn’t talk with parents before making this announcement. Talk about an utter lack of respect. He is already leading as a bureaucrat, hiding in Meadow Street while we struggle to educate our kids in a broken system. If he keeps this up, parents WILL get more organized, and his job will be MUCH more difficult.
Isn’t it the responsibility of the school board to monitor and be fully aware of the school board’s budget? Where is the oversight?
Granted $3.5 million is a small amount in comparison to the entire budget, however the strategy of last minute re-shuffling and consolidatig classes is not always the best. This is a direct disservice to the children and communities our school district is suppose to support. Our children cannot afford any more cuts from teaching staff, assistant principals, nurses, paraprofessionals, reading and math support staff, etc - those folks that directly support and teach our children. I say the next round of cuts come from 54 Meadows Street.
It goes without saying….if this situation were at “other” schools, we wouldn’t be so quick to consolidate students.
I cannot wait for the next “surprise.”
posted by: 1483mmm on August 16, 2013 5:39pm
I cannot wait for the next “surprise.”
Surpise.Invasion Of The Charter Schools.
Everyone is missing the fact here. It was not schools, teachers, or union folk that caused this “large” budget hole. It was the food services, they created 2.8 Million dollars deficit in 1 budget year. There was only a .7 Million dollar overage in general funds, this is where the teacher and building budget come from.
Here is the link to the 2013-2014 school budget take a look at what is to come: