New Haven · Students

In New Haven, Public and Charter Schools Look to Collaborate on Innovative New School

For Bridgeport residents it’s probably hard to believe that a school board and a charter school could collaborate on anything, but only a few miles up the road, New Haven is once again proving us all wrong.

According to the New Haven Independent, New Haven Public Schools and Achievement First are looking into a partnership to open a new, innovative alternative charter school, tentatively called “Elm City Imagine.”

The new school–which seeks to “reinvent” K-8 grade education–will feature both an extended school year and extended day, staggered teacher schedules and small group instruction.

One interesting aspect of the proposed model is an alternating school calendar. Unlike traditional schools, students will go to regular classes for eight weeks, followed by two weeks of “career engagement expeditions.”

In an earlier report on the project, Dacia Toll the Co-CEO and President of Achievement First told the Independent that students would be given different options on how they spend those two weeks. “They could work intensely on a computer programming project, or spend time in a law office or a Yale science lab. Then they’d go back to eight weeks of classes, then break for another excursion.”

The best part about this collaboration between the district and Achievement First is that it’s mutually beneficial.

Toll told the Independent that the plan was win-win-win: “New Haven families get access to an innovative school design; the district gets more state resources to reduce class sizes; and Achievement First gets to try out a ‘high-potential new model that we want to learn from as a network.’”

New Haven Superintendent Garth Harries agreed with the sentiment, saying “the additional state resources that would support Elm City Imagine could be an opportunity to reduce class sizes at other, over-enrolled public schools and share the burden of enrolling ‘transient students’ who switch schools after Oct. 1.”

In other words, when adults put aside politics and work together, students, parents and the community win.

Bridgeport’s Board of Education: Are you taking notes?



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