Briefly: School board considers charter

New Haven Public Schools is considering hiring a for-profit charter company to run one of its lowest performing schools.

The school, Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy, may have its management taken over by the charter as early as next school year, Christopher Hoffman, NHPS director of communications, said. He added that regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the charter company, the school’s principal and much of its teaching staff will be replaced.

“There are many different ways to solve a problem,” Hoffman said. “One of the characteristics of school reform is that we try everything.”

Hoffman said that Roberto Clemente, which the district has deemed in need of drastic reform, may benefit from the approach of the charter organization, which he declined to name. He added that the school will face “significant changes” even if its management is not taken over, listing possible measures like lengthening the school day and increasing classroom preparation time for teachers.

David Cicarella, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, said he was supportive of the change. He added that the union has agreed to give the district flexibility when it comes to deciding how to manage New Haven’s low-performing schools.

But Cicarella said that the teachers he works with are not all supportive of the possibility of hiring a charter company.

“You line up ten teachers, you’ll probably get ten different answers,” he said.

Devin Puglisi, the steward, or union representative, from Roberto Clemente, declined to comment.

Cicarella added that any new teaching staff that will be brought in as part of the reform process will become union members, if they are not so already.

While he would not state the cost of hiring the charter because any estimates would be “speculative,” Hoffman said Reginald Mayo, superintendent of NHPS, had said the district would need to raise roughly $400,000. Hoffman said the district plans to pay for the transition with a combination of district funds and national or state grants.

The district will reach a final decision on the leadership of Roberto Clemente in the “near future,” Hoffman said.

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