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Board Adds Two Grades To City Elementary School

June 8, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer

After twice voting against adding grades to Annie Fisher Elementary School, the school board reversed itself Tuesday and voted overwhelmingly to add a seventh and eighth grade to the school.

School officials plan to add the grades in September.

The move puts Annie Fisher back in line with board policy to convert all elementary schools to pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and phase out the middle schools in the city. The policy was crafted by the state-appointed trustees who oversaw the schools under the state takeover.

Board member Elizabeth Brad Noel, the board's staunchest opponent to the pre-K to 8 model, was not present. Michael Williams, board vice chairman, cast the sole vote against the measure.

Williams said that he actually supports the pre-K to 8 model over the middle school model but that he wanted to be convinced that the majority of parents who send their children to the school were in favor of the conversion.

Superintendent of Schools Robert Henry said parents of sixth-graders were queried, and the majority said they would rather keep their youngsters at Annie Fisher for two more years than send them to a middle school.

Williams said he was sorry that Noel was not present to argue her case. But board Chairman Robert E. Long said that he had expected Noel to attend, and that a consultant for the state Department of Education had told him and Noel in separate meetings that the board should convert the city schools to pre-K to 8 schools.

Long said that it made sense to keep students in their elementary school through the middle school grades to cut down on the number of transitions children make between schools.

The plan calls for the city to build an addition to the school to accommodate the conversion. Williams questioned whether the city had enough students to fill it up, because other neighboring schools are going through the same expansion and conversion.

Henry said there will be enough students, particularly because state law requires a shift in the way special education students are taught. Next year those students must be included in classes with their peers who do not have learning disabilities.

Long said it is better to have a school that is too big than too small. The school can always find ways to use the extra space, he said, such as using empty rooms as "time out" rooms rather than sending students home on suspensions.

When the board voted on the matter last month for the second time, the school's PTO president spoke in favor of adding middle school grades to the elementary school. And so did Sam Saylor, a Weaver High School PTO member and president of Hartford Transitional Learning Academy PTO.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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