The state Education Department announced Friday it has invited the Hartford, Bridgeport, Norwich, and New Haven school districts to draft school turnaround plans to be considered for the Commissioner’s Network for the 2012-13 school year.
The network is a mechanism included in the education reform legislation that allows the state to intervene in 25 of its lowest performing schools.
“Today, we are asking each of these districts to reach beyond the surface in order to take the dramatic steps necessary to turn these schools around and help their students achieve at the high levels,” Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said in a statement. “We are prepared to work intensively and collaboratively with local stakeholders to achieve meaningful progress.”
The department asked the districts to convene turnaround committees to draft plans to improve a school in each district that is considered to be in the bottom 10 percent statewide. Each of the schools also was considered “in need of improvement” for at least four years under the No Child Left Behind law and each has a student population where more than 75 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunches, according to the press release.
The schools include Bridgeport’s James J. Curiale School, the Core Knowledge Academy at the Thirman L. Milner School in Hartford, the New Haven High School in the Community, and the John B. Stanton School in Norwich.
The Education Department will make a final selection of districts and schools sometime in late July or early August.
Hartford Public Schools issued a statement Tuesday saying it already has established a turnaround panel, which hopes to partner the Milner school with the successful Jumoke Academy charter school. The city is relying on Milner’s inclusion in the Commissioner’s Network.
Former Hartford Mayor Thirman L. Milner urged the state to include the school named for him in the network.
“It’s embarrassing to me to have my name associated with one of the lowest performing schools,” Milner said. “I hope the school can be included in the Commissioner’s Network, so that it can get the resources it needs and I hope Jumoke Academy takes over the operation of the school.”
While Hartford is basing its school turnaround on a partnership with a charter organization, New Haven schools have chosen to turn over control of its low-performing school to the city’s teachers union.
Bridgeport’s plan includes increasing academic standards, using standards-based curriculum, and creating smaller class sizes. Meanwhile Norwich plans to foster greater collaboration between schools and families, according to the press release.