It’s A Deal—& A Sale

Thomas MacMillan PhotoNewhallville leaders and Achievement First reached a benefits agreement Monday evening, just in time for aldermen to approve the proposed sale of an abandoned public school.

Aldermen made the announcement Monday evening in City Hall in a joint press conference with representatives from Achievement First (AF), a not-for-profit that runs four charter schools in the city.

The agreement came just before aldermen gave final approval to a deal to sell the abandoned Martin Luther King School on Dixwell Avenue to AF for $1.5 million. AF plans to spend $35 million razing the school and building a new home for its Amistad High School.

Aldermen approved the deal—in the form of a land disposition agreement—first at a meeting of the Community Development Committee at 5:45 p.m. Then the full Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the deal at a meeting at 7 p.m.

Approval of the sale had been stalled while the two sides negotiated a “community benefits agreement” about jobs, neighborhood access, and local student enrollment in the school. The community benefits agreement was appended to the land disposition agreement before that document was approve Monday night by the full Board of Aldermen.

The two sides—AF and a Newhallville group led by Alderwomen Brenda Foskey-Cyrus and Delphine Clyburn—announced they’d come to an agreement in a 4:35 p.m. email press release. At 5:15 p.m. Monday, they gathered in the first-floor atrium of City Hall for a formal announcement.

The event was attended by dozens of people, including charter school parents and staff, many wearing blue Achievement First T-shirts that read “Charter Schools = Public Schools.” Supporters, including the aldermen, wore stickers reading “Achievement For All.”

Thomas MacMillan PhotoAddressing the a crowd, Aldwerwoman Foskey-Cyrus (pictured) described the agreement as a “win-win-win” for the neighborhood, New Haven parents, and AF.

“Too often, developments just happen without the people having a say,” she said. “Achievement First and Newhallville are showing our city how development can benefit everyone.”

“This is a great day!” Alderwoman Clyburn said to applause. The event also included expression of praise and gratitude from AF representatives, Alderman Jorge Perez, and an AF parent and student.

The Agreement

The community benefits deal includes seven key components, enforceable by court order:

Local Slots: “Achievement First will offer 10 seats in its 9th grade class to New Haven public school students,” the agreement states. AF will set aside 10 slots for New Haven students who haven’t gone to AF feeder schools, to be filled via lottery. This condition will be reviewed after five years.

This aspect of the agreement was the most contentious, according to Alderman Perez (pictured above), president of the board. “This was the hardest thing to get [AF] to agree to,” he said. “The hardest. This was the one thing most heavily debated.”

Reshma Singh (pictured), AF’s vice president of external affairs, agreed. She said AF prefers to have students in its high schools that have gone through AF middle schools, where the foundation of the teaching style is laid.

What’s more, she said, the school doesn’t have enough slots as it is. The high school is already overbooked, even without adding 10 new slots, she said.

Singh said she doesn’t know exactly how AF will make the space for more students. “We have some time to figure that out.”

She said AF will have to ask the state for more money, to have more spots for students. If the state says no, AF will have to raise funds privately, she said.

Union Jobs: As part of the agreement, AF will partner with New Haven Works, a new “jobs pipeline” agency, to steer New Haveners into cafeteria, custodial, clerical, and security jobs at the school. The custodial and cafeteria workers will be unionized.

Singh said some of its schools in Hartford and New York City already have unionized workers.

AF will also employ blacks and Latinos, women, and New Haveners during the construction of the school. According to state hiring requirements, at least 25 percent of the construction workforce must be from New Haven, Perez said. During construction, AF will hold meetings every other month with Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn.

Staff Diversity: AF will work with New Haven Works and state universities to identify and recruit minority teachers. As part of an ongoing “Diversity and Inclusiveness Initiative,” AF “shall commit to the retention, engagement, and promotion of candidates who are Black, Latino, and multi-racial, and first generation college graduates,” the agreement reads.

AF commits to having 30 of it’s finalist teacher candidates be minorities, having no difference between the rate of black and Latino candidates who begin work after accepting a job offer and the overall rate of beginning work after a job offer, and having a 5 percent increase in applications from black, Latino, and multi-racials candidates.

Community Access: The agreement includes a promise to make at least the school’s gym and athletics field available to the neighborhood when they’re not in use by the school, free of charge. The Newhallville Community Management team, political committees in Wards 20 and 21 will have use of a conference room that holds at least eight people, and will have priority for the use of the room even over AF during school hours. The building will also continue to be available as a polling place for Newhallville, as the MLK school has been.

Mural: AF promises to put up new public art on the premises to honor civil rights leaders, similar to the mural on the outside of MLK School.

$150,000 For Youth: In a separate agreement, AF agrees to contribute $150,000 over three years for “youth enrichment” programs in New Haven. The money will not go to the union-affiliated New Haven Rising and Newhallville Rising organizations, despite some reports that have spread in New Haven, but will be overseen by a six-member committee, with the Community Foundation For Greater New Haven as the fiduciary. A donation committee—comprising three AF representatives and three representatives appointed by Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn—will determine how the money is spent.

The agreements were signed by AF CEO Dacia Toll, Alderwomen Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn (pictured), and the six members of the Newhallville community benefits negotiation committee: former Helene Grant School Principal Jeffie Frazier, Geneva Pollock, Oscar Havyarimana, Dennis Grimes, Tracy Martin, and Sharon McCray.

The Community Benefits Agreement includes a provision that CCNE, the not-for-profit labor-affiliated think tank and advocacy group, will “review the agreement annually and provide a written report of that review to the parties, the Board of Aldermen, and the City of New Haven.


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posted by: RHeerema on December 17, 2012  4:54pm

Is this a promise or a written agreement?

[Editor’s note: A written agreement, to be appended to the land disposition agreement.]

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 17, 2012  7:15pm

Judas Goat leaders have sold there souls.

Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 05:55 PM PST.

Charter schools don’t perform as advertised, but try getting their advocates to admit that

by Laura ClawsonFollow for Daily Kos Labor.

Powerful forces, from politicians to billionaire donors, are promoting charter schools aggressively, saying charters are the answer to the (alleged) crisis in American education. The problem is the results don’t measure up.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 17, 2012  7:18pm

People have ask me what a judas goat is.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 17, 2012  8:40pm

The utter gullibility of New Haven was on display tonight at this meeting and press conference.

The count down begins to when the “parents and students” of these schools will regret supporting this.

The Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 17, 2012  10:37pm

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 17, 2012 8:40pm

The utter gullibility of New Haven was on display tonight at this meeting and press conference.

The count down begins to when the “parents and students” of these schools will regret supporting this.

The Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

How true.In fact check out these parents and hear what they have to say.

Former Achievement First parents share their experiences.

posted by: anonymous on December 18, 2012  7:37am

Shouldn’t the City have asked for more than $1.5M if AF had extra money? 

Guess not - instead of supporting our public parks workers, sidewalks, elderly service centers, and police, apparently the City priority is now to support CCNE’s private pet project to subsidize their Union.

posted by: AF proud parent on December 18, 2012  9:00am

Today is a great day! My oldest son attended Amistad middle before there was an AF elementary school or AF high school. He moved on to graduate from AF high school and my youngest is attending the elementary school. Many parents (including myself) fought for the opportunity for more children to get a quality AF education by asking the state for additional funding. Now these children will be able to do so in a beautiful setting. As we drive down Dixwell Avenue, it will be nice to see a beautiful building that can be used by the community in a prominent space. I am very happy that we can move forward!

posted by: robn on December 18, 2012  9:03am


Whats with the bargaining relationship between UNITE and AF anyway? Why are they throwing their unionized public school counterparts under the bus?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 18, 2012  9:58am

posted by: robn on December 18, 2012 9:03am


Whats with the bargaining relationship between UNITE and AF anyway? Why are they throwing their unionized public school counterparts under the bus?

Unite did not vote for this deal.It was Aldermen who voted for this deal.Also The question you should ask is How come AF got the property for a low price?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 18, 2012  10:07am

This deal reminds me of this.

Who Got Ripped Off When the Dutch Bought Manhattan From the Indians for $24 Worth of Trinkets?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 18, 2012  10:13am

Who are the names of the Aldermen whoi voted for this.

posted by: GNHClergyA on December 18, 2012  10:39am

For several weeks now we, the Greater New Haven Clergy Association (GNHCA), have objected to the process to sell the vacant Martin Luther King School on Dixwell Avenue to the Achievement First (AF) charter school organization as anti-democratic and closed, essentially shutting out the people most affected by the sale, the neighbors who live adjacent to the site. We have questions about whether the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) discussions would include safeguards for the adjacent neighbors who would be most impacted by this school, as well as zoning issues and the proposed sales price.
We have been clear about our positions and the role we wanted to play with this development, much of which has been misunderstood or mischaracterized. This is about the education of OUR children as well as economic development for OUR community. Many studies have shown that good schools drive up community quality. We want to make sure that the quality of life for the neighbors improves with this development.

Our General Stance
The GNHCA does not oppose the construction of a new school at the Dixwell site. We don’t even necessarily oppose Achievement First and the charter school model, which is another issue for another time.

What We Desire
All we have done is to call for a fair and transparent process, including a seat at the table to discuss the future of OUR community. Unlike Alderwomen Brenda Foskey-Cyrus and Delphine Clyburn and their Bob Proto led union partners, we have NOT asked for anything else, including any financial benefit, either direct or indirect, for our organization or our members. All we have asked is to be included in the discussions.

Our General Concerns
As close neighbors we have questions about the size and height, the number of parking spaces, and the signage for the school. These issues should not be ignored just because the aldermen and their union partners are able to extract $250,000 from AF. The zoning process doesn’t make much sense to us, why approve these major changes to the zoning for this school, and then at the same Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting not approve the changes for a tax generating business on Whalley Avenue with only one minor zoning variance?

posted by: GNHClergyA on December 18, 2012  10:41am

As taxpayers and concerned citizens we question the deeply reduced sale price. Where are the fiscal watchdogs, particularly the Board of Aldermen (BOA) President Jorge Perez, on this sale? We thought the new BOA regime signaled a different approach and more openness. Yet with the budget deficits we are facing, which have been reported to be nearly $8.5 million, it doesn’t make sense to sell this property at nearly half the appraised value of $2.88 million.

As proponents of open government we have too many questions and not enough answers. Why the secrecy? What are they hiding? They have made many claims of community participation, but where is the evidence? We have requested meeting notices and agenda, attendance sheets and minutes, none of which have been produced. The alderwomen say the Community Management Team approved of this project, yet will not provide evidence of this fact. Who were at these meetings? The people that they have publicly put forward as members of the CBA negotiating team are either union connected, or AF connected. They highlighted Barbara Vereen as a community representative, yet she is a paid union organizer.

We have three churches in the area, one within 10 feet, two across the street within 40 feet, as well as six more within a 3 block range, all filled with Newhallville residents, many direct neighbors of the school. Yet we never received notice of any community meeting, and only received notice from the BZA a few weeks ago.

All we are asking is for the new BOA to fulfill its promise of a new day for politics in New Haven. Is that asking too much of our elected officials?

posted by: EastRockIndependent on December 18, 2012  10:42am

This is very good news indeed. It seems like what voters hoped would happen last September - the restoration of the BoA as an independent branch of government from the Mayor, accountable to the community - has happened.

The community, led by two tough leaders in Alds. Brenda Foskey-Cyrus and Delphine Clyburn, got organized and fought for the things it wanted in this project - they cried out in particular for money for youth, good jobs, and student access. They beat back challenges from the old power structure - Revs. Kimber & Newman wanted to take a cut for themselves, and the Mayor originally wanted only a “community access agreement” - merely a promise to allow residents use of physical spaces in the already PUBLIC school.

They rallied the whole city to their cause, as in evidence last night (the vast majority attending both the press conference and the hearings backed the community committee negotiating the agreement). The result: higher standards for everyone: students, workers, parents, and the neighborhood.

Kudos to the Board of Aldermen for standing strong and united in the face of much nastiness, from this comment page and beyond. And thank you Newhallville for leading a new way toward shared prosperity for all in New Haven.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 18, 2012  11:15am

Taking bets.When charter revision comes up,These same Board Of Aldermen will not have TERM Limits and a Elected School Board in the charter revision.

posted by: Curious on December 18, 2012  11:46am

Hallelujah and amen!  :)

To the still-grumping clergy: I never did hear what your plans were for this abandoned school sitting 40 feet away from three of your churches.

posted by: Eddie on December 18, 2012  12:20pm

This is a great agreement.  Progressive forces won power and now they are securing victories.  Instead of just a rubber stamp this process guarantees good jobs for the New Haven community, slots for local kids, and resources for neighborhood youth!!!  After the recent articles in the NYT about communities bending over backwards to attract development, I proud to see New Haven make development work for the broader community.  The fact that old power brokers are raising concerns on an opaque mandate of “representativeness is just an indication of change in New Haven.  The alderwomen and aldermen have created a model that engages an unprecedented number of individuals and has power to win real community benefits.  The power brokers of the past showed up late in the game demanding side payments, such as fancy trash cans.  In the past, I’m sure the mayor would have given them their trash cans without addressing any of the real concerns of the community.  I’ll take resources for youth, good jobs and slots for New Haven students over trash cans.  This is the difference between real power for communities and power brokers!!

posted by: slapdiddley1001 on December 18, 2012  1:26pm

Now we can only sit back and watch this all unfold. I am afraid that people are going to be very disappointed with the outcome down the road. Talk about hoodwinked and bamboozled. Here we go again. Sad… sad

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 18, 2012  2:38pm

It is interesting that commenters here who claim to be so proud of and so happy about this deal and about the work of the AF style Charter Schools are SO proud and SO happy that they are hiding their true identity behind pseudonyms.

They are so proud that they cheer from the shadows of anonymity.  They are so happy they they mute their happy cheers into disembodied internet whispers.

Why won’t you come out?  Stand up? Be counted and connected to your words of support and endorsement, so that when this thing is shown for what it is, we will be able to identify you as it once gleeful supporters, who must explain what went wrong.


The Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee
Immanuel Missionary Baptist Church
New Haven, CT

posted by: slapdiddley1001 on December 18, 2012  3:02pm

I for one am not proud or happy about this situation or hiding.The school should not be built and my name is Shawne Lumpkin-Latham.

posted by: accountability on December 18, 2012  3:08pm

Let’s see what’s actually reported in the NHI today. In January, the Board of Aldermen laid out a city-wide agenda, focusing on:

Good Jobs: Agreement by Achievement First to work with New Haven Works to hire local residents and an agreement on unionization. Check.

Opportunities for Youth: $150,000 for youth programs to be directed by a joint committee appointed by the Newhallville alders and AF. Additional opportunities for young people to attend AF’s High School if they want to. Check.

Public Safety: Commitment to open the building as a site for community activities. More activity, more safety. Check.

Tired old power structure elbowed aside in favor new, inclusive leadership. Check.

When say they’re going to do something and then they go and do it, it’s called accountability.

Win-win-win for the people of the City, Newhallville and Achievement First.

posted by: darnell on December 18, 2012  3:19pm

Is it just me, or does it sound like all of the posts supporting the AF/union/BOA partnership sound a little too similar? Like maybe some PR machine is writing them? Mmmm…

posted by: Oscar Havyarimana on December 18, 2012  3:28pm

I am SO PROUD today as a Newhallville resident and parent.  We spent long months talking to our neighbors about their vision for Newhallville and talking to Achievement First about our community values.  And now we stand together moving our community forward!
I hope everyone takes this as a lesson in their neighborhoods, to talk to those around you and work on what UNITES us not DIVIDES us.  We are all winners today in Newhallville and that’s thanks to our hard work and the wonderful leadership of our Alderwoman.

posted by: EastRockIndependent on December 18, 2012  3:34pm

Pastor Ross-Lee:

Are you just against there being charter schools in New Haven, or are you against community benefits for new development?

If the former, I don’t exactly understand your comments. The school exists here in New Haven already on Prince St. and would have continued to exist somewhere even if it hadn’t been approved for the MLK site last night. Its charter is with the state, not with the city, so only the state has the power to change that. If you feel passionately and want to start a campaign to get rid of charter schools in New Haven, go right ahead. But I think you’ll find that many believe they are here to stay and think that New Haven students deserve choices in education models.

I believe we should vigorously debate education models and that all schools in New Haven should be accountable for their results. But that’s not really what’s at issue in the sale of the MLK school.

If you are against community benefits when new development takes place, I’d like to hear more about why.

Please clarify.

East Rock Independent

posted by: accountability on December 18, 2012  4:35pm

Three-Fifths: Wrong again. Every alderperson has a term limit: 2 years, not one day longer.

Elections are term limits. Especially at a level as small as a ward. Do the work, talk to your neighbors, get elected.

Don’t do the work, don’t talk to your neighbors, do something else with your Monday nights.

I’m betting that the voters in wards 20 and 21 are going to send Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn back with a resounding mandate for continued leadership if they decide to run. But the only way to find out is to count the votes.

posted by: dorothy25 on December 18, 2012  5:10pm

The GNHCA’s process complaints lack any credibility.  Has anyone from the GNHCA attended a management team meeting in Newhallville recently?  I don’t think so.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have heard Rev. Boise Kimber say at BOA committee meeting last month that he was offended because he wasn’t notified of a MANAGEMENT TEAM meeting.  How pathetic can you get?  As if Rev. Kimber needs a special invitation.  Aren’t those meetings where community leaders or at least their delegates go to give input or try to show leadership?  In my view, this is a last gasp of a deflated ego still wounded from when Paul Bass called him “former Newhallville power broker.”

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 18, 2012  5:34pm

Dear East Rock Independent (Or WHATEVER your REAL name is):

I, as a free and independent thinker, am not limited to discussing “what’s at issue” as defined by those who have engaged this situation.  I have been discussing openly and honestly (that means with my REAL name) my disagreement with Charter Schools for quite some time now, on this and other forums.  And I will continue to do so. 

Whether the Charter is with the state of not, the city STILL has a responsibility in how it conducts education HERE.  The city is not forced to participate in the sell of property to Charter schools, nor is the mayor forced to sit on their boards or appoint their employees to the CITY’S Board of Education.  This city does not abdicate its awesome responsibility to educate properly our children, just because AF has a state charter. 

You, like so many others, seem to think that numbers define what is right.  The “many” of which you speak do not determine the facts about Charter Schools in general or the so-named “Achievement First” Schools in particular.  “Many” are often led astray by slick talk and campaigns.  But the out-right lies told by AF and their proponents should be a warning to us all.  Remember, the “many” are entitled to their own opinions; the “many” are not, however, entitled to their own facts.

Finally, the incessant casting of Charter Schools as synonymous with “choice” is merely a way to suggest that Charters are our ONLY choice.  Of course, they are not.

Why not consider the REAL problems that plague REAL public schools and attempt to fix them, instead of simplistically blaming teachers and unions (though I know that some problems exist there) for all of the problems that hinder learning and lower legitimate graduation rates?

Why not admit that in the richest state in the union, the achievement gap is inevitable, unless we do something to smooth the gap between poverty and learning?

Why not make alternative schools like Charters REAL public schools where they are critiqued and held accountable to the public the same as other schools, instead of allowing them to become money making engines of private owners?

THESE are choices I can believe in.

My disagreement with this situation is more foundational than the “community benefits” discussion, as I hope you can now see.

The Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 18, 2012  5:34pm

posted by: accountability on December 18, 2012 4:35pm

Three-Fifths: Wrong again. Every alderperson has a term limit: 2 years, not one day longer.

If this is the case,Then how come Alderman Perez has been in office for twenty years.

Elections are term limits. Especially at a level as small as a ward.

If we placed a limit on terms, it would allow a proper rotation of citizens serving in office as true representatives of the people and reduce the ease of lobbyists to buy favors from politicians.Also the voting machines are rigged.

Do the work,talk to your neighbors, get elected.

I have talk to my neighbors.In fact my neighbors and the major of voters want Term Limits.Get a elected.Not under the system you have now even the republican party can not get elected under this system you have now.If you have proportional representation then I could get elected.

I’m betting that the voters in wards 20 and 21 are going to send Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn back with a resounding mandate for continued leadership if they decide to run. But the only way to find out is to count the votes.

I bet when the taxpayers and voters find out the read deal about this school,They will not be re-elected.

Last It is a known fact that power corrupts so term limits should exist for any elected official. When in office, politicians often hold a lot of power that effects the daily lives of their constituents and to prevent the misuse of power, their length of time holding office should be limited. If a politician feels that they will hold the job indefinitely, he or she is more likely to use that position to gain benefits and favors for himself.Look at the mayor.

posted by: dorothy25 on December 18, 2012  6:05pm

I can’t help but wonder how much of the GNHCA’s bristling at the process has to do with it being led by women.  That “former power brokers” would so glaringly express such a patriarchal view of how the process should be run and who should be consulted is no surprise to me.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 18, 2012  8:12pm

Congratulations to the Newhallville Alderwomen who have reached an agreement with Achievement First to build this new school building on Dixwell Avenue. These alderwomen are representatives of the people of the neighborhoods. They live in these neighborhoods. They are accountable to their constituents. They did what they thought was right and best for the community.
These Alderwomen courageously stood up to the last minute opposition of Rev.Mr. Kimber’s Greater New Haven Clergy Association and demonstrated independent thought and action. Members of this Clergy Association tried to exert some power over these two political leaders only to see how impotent this organization is in the community.
The debate is now over. The school will now be built. Certain reasonable concessions will be made to the community. Now it is time to work together as a community to make sure that the kids who attend this school get an excellent education.
The preacher-prophets of gloom and doom in this Clergy Association will be of no benefit to the community if they try to continue their negative and obstructionist course against this school. If they have something constructive to add they are welcome to the table. But if they again display the ego, greed and insensitivity which they have demonstrated in this case, they might as well stay in their churches. If certain pastors think that Amistad has major faults, try to work with the administrators of Achievement First to resolve your grievances. Amistad is here and will be here for years to come. Let us work together as a community positively and constructively to make things work out for the benefit of the students, first of all. To do otherwise will make you ministers look like sore, frustrated losers and poor Christian witnesses.

posted by: Eric B. Smith on December 18, 2012  8:14pm

Were there problems with the process that could be improved?  Yes.  Are there valid criticisms of AF?  Yes.  But for me, as a parent of 2 students who are in a AF school, it’s about what’s going on behind the walls of the building and in each classroom.  I cannot be more pleased with the work of AF’s administration, staff, and teachers in not only educating my children, but in caring for them over the years.  Their minds are sharp, their future is bright, and AF has played a significant role in there growth and development.  New Haven and Newhallville have a lot to look forward to and for that I am thankful.

posted by: FrontStreet on December 18, 2012  9:15pm

Good to see investment in education and sustainable, local jobs happening in a neighborhood sorely lacking in both.  Really, what else is there to say?  Let them build a school and let the children receive a decent education.

posted by: darnell on December 18, 2012  11:12pm

Let’s see what “we” have “won”

1. Union Jobs - the Chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on Equal Opportunity wrote in the NH Register Monday that we will more than likely NOT see New Haven residents fill those “union” jobs. He basically reported that the system is stacked against us. Great win for the white suburban unions (the same ones that convinced the State Legislature to eliminated residency).

1. Staff Diversity - AF doesn’t have staff diversity now in either is leadership (2 out of 28 top positions are black), or it’s school staff. Just visit any of their schools. Won’t happen. Great win here for out of town potential employees.

3. Community Access - WOW, politicians get access to the 8 seat conference room. Just another place for them to scheme and plan on how to tax more of our money. Great win for the politicians.

4. Mural - I’m not even going to go there…Really?

5. $150,000 For Youth - They went from publicly announcing the formation of a union controlled organization to control this money, to claiming it was all a rumor…lol…never laughed so much in my life. This is a great win for the politicians who will dole out these funds to their friends and loved ones. Let’s see how many of the union rep Scot Marks get gobble up this money.

Who loses? The residents who own property immediately adjacent to the new school. Not ONE single member on this committee or concession to their needs. Now the white suburban construction crews can go into that neighborhood, park wherever they want, and cause whatever havoc they so chose. And once built, they neighbors will have to pay $20 per household car just to make sure they can have adequate parking, just like the folks on Winchester Ave around Yale.

GREAT JOB Alderwomen, President Perez, and all of the other sheep and sell outs on the BOA.

posted by: darnell on December 18, 2012  11:16pm

Oh, and I almost forgot about the $1.4 million dollars we lost by selling the property at a steep discount. Who is going to pay for that come next June when the BOA, facing a $8.5 million deficit, passes a budget with steep tax raises and/or budget cuts? Maybe they will pass a rain tax, one which none of those out of town AF employees will have to pay.


posted by: darnell on December 19, 2012  12:20am

One more point. It’s sort of strange how they announced a week and a half ago that Barbara Vereen, a union paid organizer, was on the committee to negotiate this agreement. What happened to her name yesterday when they announced the committee members and she was left off…sounds like more covering up going on…but it seems that all the good folks here just want to ignore all of these things.


posted by: Eddie on December 19, 2012  1:10am

People from New Haven will get access to union jobs. 

The letter from the Chairman of the New Haven Commission on Equal Opportunities was focused on construction jobs, not staffing for the school.  According to state standards 25% of the workforce involved in the school’s construction must be local residents.  25% of the workforce is still a large number of jobs and it is the minimum. 

The CBA specifies that AF will work with New Haven Works to hire New Haven residents into cafeteria, custodial, clerical, and security jobs.  These will be good long-term union jobs for people from New Haven.  It also make the jobs pipeline program stronger, which already has an important commitment from Yale. 

It seems shortsighted to point to other AF schools as evidence a weak commitment to diversity.  The other schools were not bound by this CBA!  This is exactly why these alderwomen were negotiating so hard on behalf of their constituents. 

Again, I’m proud to see our city fight for development that provides more opportunities to those who work and live here.  These alderwomen are fulfilling their mandate to upend old power structures and fight for their constituents.

posted by: Curious on December 19, 2012  9:05am

To the critics, again….so what were YOUR plans for this property?  How ere you planning to open a new school?  Were you doing anything to turn that property around and help Newhallville?  Or are you just coming in after all the heavy lifting to make a lot of noise and say it’s not good enough?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 19, 2012  9:50am

posted by: Curious on December 19, 2012 9:05am

To the critics, again….so what were YOUR plans for this property?  How ere you planning to open a new school?  Were you doing anything to turn that property around and help Newhallville?  Or are you just coming in after all the heavy lifting to make a lot of noise and say it’s not good enough?

You could have put Hyde School of Health Sciences and Sports Medicine in that school and save the taxpayers money on buliding a New School for Hyde.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 19, 2012  10:37am


Clearly, there are commenters on here who are apart of the AF money making machine. They’ve brought in one or two folks who are willing to say how “great” this “school” as been to them, while none who say this are able to ignore the facts about AF’s lousy and clumsy record across the NE.  And there seems to be only ONE who is willing to publicly identify himself.

In virtually ANY bad (or even horrible) situation, one can find a few people who will benefit, and maybe even (read: usually) at the expense of the vast majority of those in the same situation.  But, selective benefit is what AF is all about anyway, right?  They are still creaming their student body.  They are still finding ways to limit the intake of so-called “problem” students, all the while claiming to be = to Public Schools (by which they mean to convey that they ARE public schools, a claim that Jeff Klaus use to make on this site while hiding behind the pseudonym “Fix Our Schools”. (Jeff Klaus is a banker and is married to the CEO of AF Dacia Toll). And they are still making piles of money for their Executives, whose jobs it is to keep the place open and the corporation expanding, not primarily to educate anyone, parents or students.


The attempt to justify the sale of the building to AF based on the notion that no one else had “plans” for the building is a red herring indeed. (One of the many logical fallacies used in these support arguments.) The presence or the lack of an alternate plan for this building sold under market value to a profit generating “school” neither discredits nor justifies the “deal” made by the city over the objections of the citizens there.  The merit of this “deal” is based on the ability of the institution with which it was made (closed doors and all) to engage honestly the community about its intentions, its track record, and its ultimate value to the community (especially to our precious children), present and future.

When I consider consider each of these areas - which is not necessary exhaustive - the only conclusion that I can reach is that this “deal” is wholly without merit, notwithstanding what other “plans” may or not have been in the works.

Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: Curious on December 19, 2012  10:58am

Threefifths, I’m not asking what COULD be done, I am asking what they were working on themselves…which seems to be absolutely nothing.

posted by: Curious on December 19, 2012  11:11am

Sam, I’m not arguing for this deal on the merits that there were no better plans.  That’s an argument you’re inferring from my question.

What I’m saying re: the clergy’s outrage is that they seem to have had NO plans to do anything with this school.  None.  That building was sitting empty for how many years, and what did the GNHCA do about it?  Where was there plan to re-open the school?  What process did they have underway to restore the building to a positive use for the community?  It sure looks like “none”.  They only came out of the woodwork after someone else started doing something positive with the property.  A lot of their requests were to benefit the neighbors, four of which are their own churches.

That doesn’t seem godly to me.  To complain that a positive for the community isn’t positive enough, when they in fact had not been doing anything on their own, is poor behavior for a group of adults, let alone ones who claim to be the true and best representatives of Newhallville.

posted by: Eric B. Smith on December 19, 2012  11:19am

@Samuel T. Ross-Lee

Since you didn’t identify who you were referring to, I hope I’m not the ONE you’re talking about.  I speak with my own voice and don’t need anyone to cajole me into saying something positive or constructively critical where I think it’s warranted.  Since you’re calling for transparency relative to anonymous commenters, you should be equally transparent when talking about commenters.

posted by: AF proud parent on December 19, 2012  12:13pm


As I mentioned in my earlier comment, I am a parent of an Amistad alumni and a parent of a current Amistad student. I have a child that attends a public non-Amistad school as well.Two of my children had IEP’s (well there goes that notion that Amistad doesn’t accept special ed students!). I am not paid by AF as Rev Ross-Lee has suggested. My comments are not scripted. My feelings about Amistad are not spoon-fed to me.  I am a PROUD parent of Amistad. Why? Amistad is a good school. Period. The teachers are supportive of their students. Period. The administrators are supportive of the teachers and are willing to listen to the parents. Period. The parents work together to bring about change in the schools where we see it’s needed. Period. Does this happen in public school? YES! No one is saying that Amistad is the royalty of the educational system but what parents CAN say is that Amistad is not afraid of change and they are willing to do what’s best for the CHILDREN. Amistad gives children the ability to believe that they can be something other than a great basketball player or football player to get out of the inner city. From kindergarten, AF children are instilled with the belief that they can climb the mountain to college. But don’t put it all on AF- it takes parent involvement, community involvement and reinforcement.

I applaud the aldermen and alderwomen that voted for the building and I am sickened by the lack of support from the community “leaders”. As someone else already stated, what were YOUR plans for the dilapidated building? Or do you just want to spew your hatred for Amistad? Get over it.

A. Gibbs

posted by: SSSS on December 19, 2012  2:24pm

@AF Proud Parent…thank you, much needed sanity injected into conversation.

@Pastor Ross-Lee.  I am not affiliated with AF in any way.  I wouldn’t assume that everyone who disagrees with you has a nefarious agenda.  Reasonable people are allowed to disagree.

AF detractors, please address AF Proud Parent as to why he/she should not be allowed to send his/her child with an IEP to Amistad.  Also, please provide statistics regarding Amistad’s “cream-skimming” of their student body. As you know, they allow in students through a RANDOM lottery process.  In a previous thread, I pulled statistics showing that alleged “segregation” doesn’t exist.  I believe the onus is on you to prove that AF is throwing special needs children out of their schools, and not just some anecdote from a blog.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 19, 2012  3:33pm

If a poll were taken of the residents of Dixwell-Newhallville, I firmly believe that the majority of residents support Amistad High School building a new school in the neighborhood. Considering the reaction of Kimber and his group of ministers, one would think that a strip club or some other den of iniquity were attempting to move into the neighborhood. The pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee as vociferously let us all know that he hates Amistad, its administration, faculty and philosophy, and all charter schools in general. That is his choice, his opinion. He will never send his kids there.
However, lots of other parents choose to send their children to Achievement First schools and love the results they have seen first hand. If the majority of the community, the majority of the Board of Aldermen, and the majority of Amistad parents support the move of Amistad into this community, the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church should not call these people stupid or naive because surely there must be members of his own church who support Achievement First. Intelligent, articulate, lettered and loquacious as he might be, no black leader should think he has any bright future in New Haven or any other community if he thinks that the people of the community are utterly gullible. This young pastor is quite dogmatic and emphatic and quite angry and condescending in his expressions that he alone is right on this issue and everyone else is wrong and dumb. He may get away with that in his church, but all of us are not members of his church and most of us can and do think for ourselves. Instead of hoping for the best for Amistad and its students, this prophet of doom anxiously anticipates failure and ruin for Amistad, so he can happily point his finger in our faces and say,“See, you idiots, I was right!”



posted by: robn on December 19, 2012  4:15pm

Readers would like to know though, if the purportedly open community meetings were mostly filled with union organizers. If its true that this was just a union operation, New Haveners have just traded one set of corrupt powerbrokers for another.

posted by: Morgan Barth on December 19, 2012  4:31pm

I am very eager for the construction of the new Amistad HS campus to begin.  As the former principal of many of Amistad’s current students I know they are great kids (part of the NH public community) and have been eagerly awaiting a new campus for years. They’ve made due (and haven’t made excuses) with two old Catholic schools…and have even had to cross the street to travel between buildings on Prince St.

Sale Price: I read that sale price is $1.5m and the appraised value is $2.8m.  I also read that AF is paying for all environmental cleanup - including the removal of a gas station’s remnants underground. The city saves money by not heating and maintaining an empty building. I believe the sale price should have been $0 since a school and construction jobs are good for the city, the neighborhood and all of the public school kids/parents.  (It’s worth noting that in NYC, Hartford, Rhode Island and much of the country districts provide or pay for all charter school facilities—seeing them as part of the public school system.)

Profit Motive Accusations: These are ludicrous. AF is a non-profit. The state grants AF charters to operate public-charter schools. Neither Dacia Toll nor other AF employees make salaries that exceed those of their counterparts in New Haven Public Schools.

The CBA: While I work for AF I had no role in the negotiation and offer my opinion as a New Haven resident. I completely support parts of the CBA like sharing the space and the promise to recreate public art that honors Dr. King and other African American leaders.  As far as the donation to “youth enrichment,” I don’t think it was appropriate for the Alders/CCNE to ask for money nor for AF to give it.  I realize that “donations” are common in CBAs…but it’s unprecedented for any non-profit (other than Yale and YNH) to make payments like this.  Imagine LEAP, the Community Music School or Hill Health being ask to raise extra money to pay to a third party as part of a CBA!  Amistad is a high-performing school with robust extracurriculars – that itself is youth enrichment and is itself an enormous community benefit. 

But a deal is a deal and I’m glad that AF-Amistad, the community and most importantly kids and parents are able to move forward with building a much-needed new campus!

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 19, 2012  6:04pm

“Thomas Paine”

I will be surprised if you see this post, but I must say that it is quite cowardly of you to attribute all kinds of statements to me that I did not say while hiding behind a computer screen.  I defy you to find ONE POST written by me that used the word “hate” towards ANY PEOPLE, including the AF owners, administrators or faculty, as YOU claimed concerning my point of view. 

My disagreement with the “AF-STYLE” Charter schools has been consistent here, not ALL Charter Schools.  I have never used the words “stupid” or “dumb” to refer to anyone’s opinion here, either.  And if you don’t believe your supporters have been “condescending” as your above post definitely is, you’re a hypocrite as well.

It’s easy to dismiss my conclusions about the money making AF by saying that I think I “alone” am right and “everyone else is wrong”, but there is evidence, concrete and unassailable, upon which I base my conclusions.  So, there are MANY others who are right on this issue, as well. Several of them have posted on this site and some work for the BOE and have had their freedom stymied and voices muted for the sake of a paycheck.   

The few AF supporters posting here do not, by ANY means, represent a majority of anything, much less a majority vote from the Newhallville Community or from New Haven. But a vote proves nothing except popularity, anyhow; a vote doesn’t change FACTS. 

And why is it that only a “black leader” should feel that his/her “bright future” is threatened for speaking truth to power?  Is that because White Leaders can say and do anything they choose to Black people and STILL be assured a “bright future”?  Why the implicit (and racist) double standard? 

Additionally, I don’t have to wait for the “failure and ruin” of AF-style Charter Schools, for it is not their failure about which I’m concerned.  It is the children whom they purport to educate who are ALREADY getting the short end of the stick here. 

If you’re going to disagree with me, “Paine”, at least, have the decency to do so using my words and not some made up by you. 

Finally, of one thing I am most assuredly certain from your tone and attempted manipulation of my words and sentiments; I HAVE touched a nerve.

The Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 20, 2012  10:14am

posted by: SSSS on December 19, 2012 2:24pm

Also, please provide statistics regarding Amistad’s “cream-skimming” of their student body. As you know, they allow in students through a RANDOM lottery process

Here you go.

Are charter schools cherry-picking their students.

Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards
Executive Summary

And I will throw this on in.

Bill would waive certification for charter school teachers.

I believe the onus is on you to prove that AF is throwing special needs children out of their schools, and not just some anecdote from a blog.

Check with the Board of Education.There being sent to Wexler-Grant School in New Haven.Elm City Prep also send them there.Also you can get the list from the charter schools.For me It is not just about the charter school geting this buliding.The problem is what they got it for and if you are going to gave everyone else a deal like this.

posted by: dorothy25 on December 20, 2012  12:02pm

@ Morgan Barth:  “As far as the donation to “youth enrichment,” I don’t think it was appropriate for the Alders/CCNE to ask for money nor for AF to give it…” 

I think it’s totally appropriate for the Newhallville community to ask for resources.  Beside the ten spaces open to students new to the AF system, the high school (a public school) is closed off to most New Haven students.  I think it’s great that AF and Newhallville residents are going to collaborate to focus additional resources to youth in that neighborhood. 

As a charter school with the backing of a highly organized charter school movement, I’m sure AF is well-resourced and has access to capital many other community organizations do not.

posted by: Eddie on December 20, 2012  12:28pm

I still don’t understand the opposition to this deal. 

Let’s say the detractors got their way and the school wasn’t built.  Then AF would continue with its current campus or it would build a school in a neighboring city.  This would leave New Haven with an unused building that it has to maintain.  New Haven wouldn’t get long-term union jobs for its residents.  There would be less construction jobs for New Haven’s residents.  New Haven students wouldn’t get guaranteed slots in the schools.  The youth in Newhallville wouldn’t get resources.  Newhallville residents wouldn’t have new facilities to access.  Moreover, New Haven would probably have to pay to transport students to the AF high school in a neighboring city. 

Would not selling the site to AF change the educational models in New Haven or Connecticut?  I don’t see how it would, if the high school was built in a neighboring city or even if they continued with their current campuses. 

There are certainly legitimate concerns regarding charters schools and AF.  But if individuals really hold these concerns, then why aren’t they organizing to mandate that AF takes more students with special needs and language requirements?  Why aren’t they protesting at AF sites?  If they are opposed to charter schools altogether, why aren’t they organizing to ban charter schools?  Directly organizing to rectify the problems with charter schools has the benefit of actually addressing these problems.  Denying the CBA and school construction imposes hardship on New Haven without doing anything to change the educational model.

posted by: streever on December 20, 2012  1:22pm

There are two opponents.

1. Opponents of the school BEING BUILT
It seems that these people are upset that they don’t call the shots anymore, and upset that new people call the shots.

2. Opponents of the WAY the deal is structured
I can speak more authoritatively on this: I may be the only person who feels this way in New Haven.

Zoning relief and building permits should not be granted based on unrelated deeds. For instance, the CBA should have a direct impact on the immediate neighborhood, not be a 3 year New Haven wide program with no oversight and no binding clauses.

Who forces CCNE to spend 150,000 on youth enrichment in New Haven? What stops CCNE from spending that money willy-nilly?

Legally, nothing. Not one thing. Because the deal is structured for 3 years, the people who signed it may not be in office for the contract, either, so we can’t even hold them responsible if CCNE reneges.

Deals involving public channels and public property that impact neighborhoods should go through public processes and should have citizen oversight.

The aldermen negotiating the deal are doing so outside of their aldermen role: they are negotiating the deal as members of CCNE, but voting on the deal as Aldermen.

The process should stay within the Board of Aldermen. The $150,000 should go into a trust/escrow account and the items it will be used on should be decided and put into writing now, instead of a general “youth enrichment” with no objectives, goals, or ways to measure impact.

This was one of the most common criticisms of John DeStefano by CCNE supporters: that he didn’t provide transparency and that he didn’t have deals properly evaluated in the public.

It is a problem no matter who does it. It was not a problem purely because “DeStefano bad, CCNE good”—the actual manner in which it is done is bad and would be bad if it was done by Gandhi.

This is not a judgement on the people involved as “evil” or “good”. Rather, it is a criticism of a process that removes the public, and may short-change the neighborhood in the end. Historically, that is precisely what these deals have done in New Haven.

posted by: brain_stringcheese on December 20, 2012  3:08pm

i like reading these comments, but where were you community members before this deal was struck?  i was at this press conference there were children running around sticking achievement first stickers on everyone handing out t shirts, i was asked if i wanted a sticker or a t shirt i think i was the only one in the building that wasn’t wearing one.  the “school choice = freedom” on the back of the shirts really bothered me, because what does school choice do for improving our public schools? how does privatizing something public bring freedom? where were all of you monday night?