BRIDGEPORT — Bryant? Marin? Dunbar? Batalla? Curiale? Johnson? Columbus? Tisdale? or Black Rock?
A reliable source told me today, the school will be Curiale. Board members have also been told and the staff was notified today by Sandra Kase. Board member David Norton said he thinks parents were notified too. Have not been able to confirm this.
Curiale is located at 300 Laurel Avenue. It is a K-8 School with 636 students. It is on the not-so-short list of city schools that are candidates for the Commissioner’s Network (by virtue of being in the bottom in terms of student test scores in some area) and not already getting interventions of another kind. In Curiale’s case, the performance of its black students is in the bottom five percent statewide.
The Commissioner’s Network was created by the Legislature in the state’s new education reform bill. Word is that Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor could announce a preliminary list as soon as Thursday.
The city school board on Monday tried to hold a special meeting in between the graduation ceremonies of Central and Harding High Schools. Only three members showed, along with 13 members of the public, Interim Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas and his chief academic officer, Sandy Kase.
Vallas and Kase say they have a school in mind to make part of the network but won’t say yet which it is. Preliminary talks have been held with the Bridgeport Education Association. BEA President Gary Peluchette was also reluctant to tip the district’s hand. He would only say that as long as teachers were part of the discussion he is willing to go along with the process that could alter the schools’ calendar and programming. (One of the models that could be used is the University of Connecticut’s CommPACT model, which is endorsed by the teacher’s union and already in place in several city schools.)
Being in the network could mean up to $3 million for the school according to Vallas. Pryor has $7.5 million to spread between up to five schools. Once in, the school stays part of the network for at least three years. The intervention model selected will depend on a committee made up of teachers, district appointees, a state appointee and a parent.
One thing the district doesn’t need, apparently, is the approval of the school board.
This from Jim Polites, communications director for the state Department of Education: “We welcome and are encouraged by Bridgeport’s informal expression of interest in the Network, offered by a consensus of Board members at tonight’s meeting. As a first resort, we aim to work with districts that voluntarily express their desire to have schools in the Network. Though, if necessary, the state does retain the option of selecting a low-performing school for the Network.”
Board Chairman Robert Trefry said he worries about what happens when the money goes away. At the same time, he said the district should not miss the opportunity. Board member Judy Bankoswki said her concern is the energy that will surround the chosen school might detract from the districtwide effort being made to align curriculum and staffing.
Vallas said the money would be spent primarily on one time things. Kase said even though consistency has been brought to the district, each school is unique.
Karen Jackson, a parent at the meeting, told the board members and Vallas that parents need to be involved in the process from the beginning, not after the fact like they were when the district brought in Global Partnership to improve Harding High School. The funding for that program ends at the close of this school year and the district won’t learn what impact the private firm had on test scores until later this summer.
Pryor has identified 151 schools in 21 districts eligible to become part of the Commissioner’s Network. But of those, only Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, Norwalk, Norwich, New Britain, New London, New Haven and Waterbury have expressed interest in being in the first round.