Strong Might Become Obama School

JCJ ARCHITECTURE/PICKARD CHILTONWhen the Strong 21st Century Communications Magnet School opens its new home on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University, it might have a new name — that of the 44th president on the United States.

Board of Education (BOE) President, Darnell Goldson shared that idea with the members of the Newhallville Management Team at their most recent meeting.

Christopher Peak PhotoGoldson said a board subcommittee will consider renaming the school in honor of Barack Obama in honor of his historic election as the first African-American president.

“It would be the only school named after Obama in Connecticut,” Goldson said at the meeting, which took place last week at Lincoln-Bassett School. “It would be the only school in New England named after Obama, and one of only four in the total Northeast named after Obama.”

He noted it would be the only traditional public school in the Northeast named after Obama; the other three schools are charters.

“It would be significant,” Goldson said of the proposed name change. “We have to continue to look at how we as a majority-minority community figure out how to make sure we teach our kids just how important that is.”

Shovels are expected to be in the ground this spring for the new school, which is expected to cover about 62,000 square feet. The city has an agreement with Southern that allows it to lease space to build the pre-K to 4 lab school on the university’s campus at 69 Farnham Ave. Alders agreed to build the new school with the help of about $34.2 million from the state; the city has to put up about $10.8 million. The larger school is expected to grow from the 350 students now served to about 490.

In addition to a new school building, part of the new ethos of the school will be grooming future teachers for New Haven’s public schools with help from Southern’s education school.  While the school does receive some students from surrounding towns, the majority of students are from New Haven. The school is about 60 percent African-American and 33 percent Latino. The BOE best case scenario is to open the school to students in time for the 2020 school year.

But first, the name change has to get past a committee tasked with making such recommendations.

At a Board of Ed meeting on Feb. 12, Goldson said he’d read in this Independent story that a pedestrian footbridge is being named for President Barack Obama.

“That suggestion didn’t go through the process that is outlined in our policies,” he said.

According to the bylaws, the school system has to appoint a committee before making any name changes. The committee is made up of six people: two appointed by the Board of Education president, two by the Board of Education, and two by the School Construction Committee chair. That committee then makes a recommendation that the whole Board of Education must vote to approve.

Goldson recommended Keisha Redd-Hannans, Celentano’s principal, and Krystal Augustine, an outspoken parent, as the committee’s first two members.

Christopher Peak contributed to this report.

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posted by: Noteworthy on March 8, 2018  1:46pm

Whistling Past the Graveyard Notes:

1. Spending two seconds thinking about the name of a school is a waste of time when you’re president of a board of education that is running a $7 million deficit; projecting a $10 million deficit in no small part because of the continued push to build more new schools we don’t need, can’t staff and can’t maintain.

2. It is remarkable that given these facts, Darnell spends any time on anything but bringing in these budget numbers.

3. Strong School, Obama School or No Name School - doens’t matter. The damn school should not be built. We don’t need it, can’t afford it and shutting it down at the end of this school year will save the state and the city a lot of money that neither one has.

4. What is it that is so difficult for Darnell and the BOE to understand about our finances? Do they need remedial budgeting 101? If so, get on it. I’ll provide a tutorial for free unlike any of Darnell’s friends.

posted by: 1644 on March 8, 2018  2:03pm

Better than a footbridge, but it really looks like an effort to ensure political support for an unneeded building.  With the present an increasing funding cutbacks, this project should be cancelled.  All these schools are white elephants.  NHPS needs to consolidate its physical plant.

posted by: robn on March 8, 2018  2:27pm

I would love to name something significant after Pres Obama; but still don’t think this school should be built.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 8, 2018  2:30pm

Goldson said a board subcommittee will consider renaming the school in honor of Barack Obama in honor of his historic election as the first African-American president.

Sorry Barack Obama is not the first African-American president.

The Seven Black Presidents Before Barack Obama

1. John Hanson (a Moor) was actually the 1st President of the United States, he served from 1781 – 1782 and he was black. The new country was actually formed on March 1, 1781 with the adoption of The Articles of Confederation. This document was actually proposed on June 11, 1776, but not agreed upon by Congress until November 15, 1777. Maryland refused to sign this document until Virginia and New York ceded their western lands (Maryland was afraid that these states would gain too much power in the new government from such large amounts of land).

Once the signing took place in 1781, a President was needed to run the country. John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress (which included George Washington). In fact, all the other potential candidates refused to run against him, as he was a major player in the revolution and an extremely influential member of Congress.

As President, Hanson ordered all foreign troops off American soil, as well as removal of all foreign flags. He established the Great Seal of the United States, which all Presidents since have been required to use on all Official Documents. He declared that the 4th Thursday of every November to be Thanksgiving Day, which is still true today. Even though elected, one variable that was never thought through was that America was not going to accept a Black President during the heart of the enslavement period. Enter George Washington.

Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 8, 2018  2:39pm

Part One.

Also Michelle Obama was not the first black First Lady.

Jackie Kennedy was.

Jackie Kennedy America’s most emulated and admired First Lady, descended from a family known as the van Salee’s, who were described as “mulatto” in the 17th century. This family traced its lineage in part to a Dutch mariner named Jan Jensen, who turned Turk (what some Europeans called “going native”), which was more popular than common history reveals.It is widely believed Jensen fathered two children, Anthony and Abraham van Salee, by a Moorish concubine. Following a dispute with his white wife, Anthony van Salee was exiled to territory across the river, where he became Brooklyn’s first settler. Until a few decades ago, this property adjoining Coney Island was called Turk’s Island after Anthony van Salle—the term “Turk,” in his day being synonymous with Moor (North African). A descendant, John van Salee De Grasse, born in 1825, was the first black American formally educated as a doctor. When Jackie Kennedy was asked about her van Salee roots during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she called her ancestors “Jewish.” Of course, her socialite father, born in 1891, was nicknamed “Black Jack” Bouvier for his swarthy complexion. In the 1960s, journalists described the First Lady’s features as “French,” earning her the cover page of countless magazines, including film and fan publications. Not only Kennedy Onassis, but well-borns Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Vanderbilt (and thus Anderson Cooper), are van Salee descendants.

BLACK LIKE Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

posted by: robn on March 8, 2018  2:52pm


Check your sources before posting please. You’ve been pwned.

posted by: NewHaven18 on March 8, 2018  2:56pm


John Hanson was not black, he was Swedish. The story that he was black was made up by internet trolls, similar to how a lot of people were fooled that Avril Levine died a year ago.

posted by: newhavenishome on March 8, 2018  3:17pm

Darnell and BOE-How can you justify building another school while claiming to have the best interests of the NHPS students at heart?  There are currently 350 K-4 students at Strong. Divide them up between 10 of the existing NHPS elementary schools and reinvest the savings into the classroom.  You’ll still have plenty of $$ left over to build a lovely Obama Playground.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 8, 2018  3:20pm

posted by: robn on March 8, 2018 1:52pm


Check your sources before posting please. You’ve been pwned.


posted by: NewHaven18 on March 8, 2018 1:56pm


John Hanson was not black, he was Swedish. The story that he was black was made up by internet trolls, similar to how a lot of people were fooled that Avril Levine died a year ago.

John Hanson is NOT Swedish.

Since the publication of an article by genealogist George Ely Russell titled “John Hanson of Maryland, a Swedish Heritage Disproven”, It has been accepted that John Hanson is not Swedish or from the royal Vasa line.  The work of Russell was so compelling that a John Hanson memorial bust and plaque were removed from Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Church in Philadelphia. The myth was started in the 19th century by George Adolphus Hanson who was trying link his family line to John Hanson.

Now let us say that John Hanson was not black.What about the other six.Are you saying they are not Black. Also I notice you did not speak on Jackie Kennedy being a van Salee descendants.

posted by: opin1 on March 8, 2018  3:30pm

How many schools do we have in New Haven now? (anybody know?). It seems like an awful lot for the size of our city. How many schools are there at each grade level? The partnership with Southern seems like a good idea, but I don’t see why it required building another school (especially with both city and state budgets in turmoil).  I do like the idea of naming a New Haven school after Obama.

posted by: Noteworthy on March 8, 2018  3:50pm


I believe there are at least 41 schools. They generally cost between $3+ million $6 million or more. The larger high schools cost even more than that - the ones with multiple assistant principals like the six of them at Wilbur Cross.

posted by: Noteworthy on March 8, 2018  3:56pm

By the way - the only budget documents the NHPS has published on its website is the current one and some old ones. The proposed budget with the $10 million in additional funding they’re seeking from taxpayers - is not posted anywhere. They are intentionally hiding it because the NH BOE and Administration don’t want us to see it. This should change. Can any of these people spell transparency? Define it?

posted by: HewNaven on March 8, 2018  4:10pm


You hit upon a winning idea perhaps. You’re really good with budgets, and yet a lot of the rest of us are not. If you have some extra time, why not give free workshops for New Haven residents about budgeting and finance? I’m pretty sure many would appreciate it. It’s definitely not something that is taught in public schools.

posted by: darnell on March 8, 2018  4:31pm


The NH BOE passed a resolution at the the meeting on 2/12/2018 to “Ensure that the budget and monthly statements are uploaded to the NHPS website by March 1, 2018.”

I have reached out to the administration to ascertain whether that directive has been met. Additionally, the minutes for that meeting have not been uploaded to the website. I have contacted admin to make sure that is done immediately.

Thank you for bringing that to our attention

posted by: darnell on March 8, 2018  5:43pm

Noteworthy and others,

Budget docs are on the website

posted by: darnell on March 8, 2018  5:45pm

Also, the full site based budget (school budgets) will be posted within the next 2 weeks.

posted by: Noteworthy on March 9, 2018  9:43am

The budget presentation Darnell linked to is what was presented to the NH BOE. This is not a real budget and there is way too little information even upon which to make any decision about expenditures or about the demand for another $10 million from taxpayers.

The full site based budget is not available? Why? This document should have been done by March 1 - and frankly should have been earlier than that, discussed and disclosed before that. Instead, it’s been held in the dark and continues to be even as the city’s budget is the subject of public hearings and workshops.

In other words - the other side of the ledger - the public and the BOA are in the dark.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on March 9, 2018  10:42am


Obama is MUCH more than a bad financial decision. Let his legacy be MUCH MORE than this flop of an idea.


IF NOT, The mayor is considering an 11% hike in the Mill rate? REALLY?


posted by: darnell on March 9, 2018  11:00am


As you should know, what was presented to the Mayor and subsequently to the BOA is not the final budget. The mayor reduced our request by $5 million. Now we wait for the BOA to make a determination what they will provide to the NHPS.

Once we get that number back, we will prepare a budget in line with those number, which should occur sometime in June.

There is no master plan nor conspiracy by the BOE to “keep the budget in the dark”. In fact, we have been begging and demanding a budget for several years now, which is why we hired a CFO and a forensic auditor at our last board meeting 2 weeks ago.

We’ll get to the bottom of this budget prep problems during my tenure, so that no one are in the dark anymore. I’ve been the president for a month, let me get this done.

posted by: Katherine on March 9, 2018  11:22am

I assume this school is going to make traffic on Farnham/Blake worse than it already is. I’m gonna have to move.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on March 9, 2018  1:39pm



Obama is MUCH more than a bad financial decision. Let his legacy be MUCH MORE than this flop of an idea.


IF NOT, The mayor is considering an 11% hike in the Mill rate? REALLY?


posted by: 1644 on March 10, 2018  2:57pm

Mr. Goldson,  Under Conn. Gen. Stat. section 10-222, it is the obligation of the BoE to present the appropriating authority an itemized budget.  You need to make an itemized budget, not just ask for a random dollar amount.  That is the BoE’s legal obligation.  The Alders can then, line by line, review your budget.  This obligation is one of the BoE, NOT a CFO, or other employee.

posted by: darnell on March 10, 2018  3:47pm

1644, as you see, the statute says “itemized estimate”. That is what we provided to the Mayor and the BOA.

Sec. 10-222. Appropriations and budget. Each local board of education shall prepare an itemized estimate of the cost of maintenance of public schools for the ensuing year and shall submit such estimate to the board of finance in each town or city having a board of finance, to the board of selectmen in each town having no board of finance or otherwise to the authority making appropriations for the school district, not later than two months preceding the annual meeting at which appropriations are to be made. The board or authority that receives such estimate shall, not later than ten days after the date the board of education submits such estimate, make spending recommendations and suggestions to such board of education as to how such board of education may consolidate noneducational services and realize financial efficiencies. Such board of education may accept or reject the suggestions of the board of finance, board of selectmen or appropriating authority and shall provide the board of finance, board of selectmen or appropriating authority with a written explanation of the reason for any rejection. The money appropriated by any municipality for the maintenance of public schools shall be expended by and in the discretion of the board of education. Except as provided in this subsection, any such board may transfer any unexpended or uncontracted-for portion of any appropriation for school purposes to any other item of such itemized estimate.