A group “dedicated to improve education and parent involvement in New London schools” plans to address a Board of Education workshop this evening, alleging a lack of parental involvement as the district works to improve student achievement.
At a Sept. 13 meeting, Dr. Stephen Adamowski—a special master appointed to the New London Public Schools by the Connecticut Department of Education—asked board members to develop a personal vision of where they want the district to be in five years. He said these will be taken into consideration as the district develops a three-year strategic operating plan to be a guideline for district operations as it focuses on closing the student achievement gap in the New London Public Schools.
Adamowski also suggested that the district could consider transitioning to an all magnet school district, saying legislation approved in 2006 allows New London to meet a threshold of having 15 percent of the magnet school population be out-of-town students, a lower percentage than state requirements. Since magnet school funding is allocated before Education Cost Sharing funds at the state level, Adamowski said the district could be eligible to receive up to $3,000 per student, or $9 million.
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The New London Public Schools includes two science, technology, engineering and mathematics schools: the Science and Technology Magnet High School and the Winthrop School, which recently opened as a STEM magnet elementary school. The Nathan Hale School is currently being renovated to open in 2013 as an arts magnet school.
Adamowski suggested that regionalization could be included in the plan, with STMHS becoming part of a multi-school campus with other high schools in the area. He also said the district could work to incorporate the Regional Multicultural Magnet School and the ISAAC charter school, both unaffiliated located in New London.
In a statement issued this week, the newly formed group New London Parent Advocacy said it was concerned that other options may not be under consideration. The statement says the plan will also not address some concerns related to the district.
“In the long run, this plan may or may not serve the best interest of New London children, but for sure it does not say how we are going to fix leaking roofs, crowded classrooms and the increasing number of students being served with less staff and resources in the mean time” said Mongi Dhaouadi, a member of the group.
Dhaouadi said the district should look at multiple options before developing its strategic operating plan. Tonight’s meeting agenda includes a review of the current performance of the schools, board members’ draft vision statements, and the theory of action for the strategic operating plan.
“A multiple choice question should have more than one answer to choose from,” said Dhaouadi. “We feel that the administration is going too far too quickly and in doing so ignored a main partner in the education equation: the parents.”
Mirna Martinez, a founding member of New London Parent Advocacy, also said she thought the process has not included sufficient parental involvement.
“We were looking forward to the new leadership engaging the community in courageous dialogue on how we can unite behind a cohesive vision and buy into a common learning philosophy,” said Martinez. “We are disappointed, however, that once again we are being excluded.”
Correction: the article originally referred to ISAAC as a magnet school. It is a charter school.