Community leaders, union members, parents and students held a rally in front of the Aquaculture school before Monday’s night’s special board meeting, demanding the school board make a decision on the Harding High School construction project.
The project, which is set to begin this summer, is currently stuck in the school board’s Facilities Committee and cannot move forward until the board approves the site plan for the new building.
Ricardo Griffith, President of the East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, who participated in the rally, said Harding was ready for a new High School. “We need to move on this project and we need to move quickly.”
This is the city’s third attempt at building a new Harding. The city is working against a fast approaching deadline. If the project is stalled for too long, the state can take away the city’s grant.
Originally the board was supposed to discuss Harding last night, but conveniently, this meeting was cancelled and replaced by a special meeting on the state board approval of two new charter schools.
I say conveniently, because it has become clear certain members of the board have been working to block this project.
If they weren’t, Board Chair Sauda Baraka would not have canceled public forums on Harding High School and the Facilities Chair John Bagley would not have handed the reins of his meeting two months ago to Carmen Lopez and her buddies, allowing them free rein to promote all sorts of wild speculation about the project.
According to Connecticut Post reporter Linda Lambeck, Bagley’s most recent excuse for stalling the vote on Harding was that he was “waiting for the cleanup plan that has yet to be presented.”
Sounds reasonable at first; however, according to Mayor Finch’s Deputy Chief of staff, Ruben Felipe, this argument comes from a misunderstanding of the process. The “cleanup plan,” or remediation plan as it’s sometimes called, cannot be finalized until the site plan is approved.
The school board has yet to schedule the next facilities committee meeting, however there is some talk that the issue might come up at the next board meeting.
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