Hartford School officials, the state of Connecticut, and the plaintiffs in the 24-year-old Sheff v O’Neill education rights case announced Friday they’ve reached a court-approved agreement for the 2014-2015 school year. It follows seven months of negotiations in the latest round of the long-running effort to reduce inequities in education between city and suburban students.
Governor Dannel Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor say the agreement “reflects Connecticut’s continuing commitment to improving educational opportunities for students.” They say it opens more desks for Hartford children in “a variety of learning environments” while also commiting resources to improving Hartford neighborhood schools.
The neighborhood school effort will include Sheff funding for a Hartford public school shown to have a naturally diverse student body if the school has a proven academic program.
The agreement calls for creation of a Capital Community College Senior Academy magnet school, allowing juniors and seniors to take college-level courses and and establishment of a Goodwin College/Hartford Public Schools Senior Academy for students who enroll at the college for two semesters. It also calls for conversion of the Insurance and Finance Academy into a magnet school and expansion to tenth grade of the Journalism and Media Academy.
The agreement also provides a quarter-million-dollar grant for ten suburban fourth-through-sixth graders to attend Hartford’s Renzulli Academy for the Gifted and Talented.
The announcement from the school system noted that Superior Court Judge Marshall Berger Jr. said the schools are getting better and better, even as achieving the goals of the Sheff lawsuit are complicated by changing suburban demographics.