The West Hartford Public Schools' plan for a massive makeover of Charter Oak International Academy took one step closer toward reality Tuesday night when the Board of Education appointed an advisory committee to shape the school's upcoming renovation or rebuilding.
On Oct. 2, West Hartford's legislative delegation gave the board the welcome news that the Charter Oak project is now eligible for state funding at a 80 percent level due its classification as a "Diversity School" – defined as "a school in which the percentage of minority students varies from the average minority population for the district by plus or minus 25 percent."
The committee will be tasked with the roles of:
- Managing the community input process regarding a renovate vs. rebuild
- Providing the Board of Education with a recommendation to either renovate or rebuild
- Touring relevant schools and seeking input from experts to become better informed about issues that are relevant to the potential renovation or new design of Charter Oak
- Managing the community input process regarding for the future design of the project once the nature of the project has been determined
- Synthesizing community input on design and providing that input to the selected architect.
The work of the committee will commence with its first organizational meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Charter Oak auditorium. Dates will be chosen for three community input meetings which will be held in November or by early December at the latest. The board is interested in receving input from those in neighborhoods throughout West Hartford, since as a magnet school Charter Oak serves students from all over town.
According to Board of Education Chairman Bruce Putterman, the goal is to have the committe provide a recommendation about renovating vs. rebuilding by the middle of January 2013.
The following individuals have been appointed to the Charter Oak advisory committee: Lib Brassil Spinella, Board of Education; Kaeleigh Brown, Charter Oak graduate/current Conard student; Shari Cantor, deputy mayor; Allen Currier, Charter Oak graduate/current Hall student; Jack Darcy, former Board of Education chairman; Janet Fournier, paraprofessional at Charter Oak, neighborhood resident; Keith Griffin, Charter Oak parent, neighborhood resident; Cynthia Isales, Treasurer, Charter Oak PTO, Charter Oak parent; Elin Katz, vice-chair, Board of Education; Marcia Lewis, librarian, Faxon Library; Babette Mantilla, president, Charter Oak PTO, Charter Oak parent; Mark Overmyer-Velazquez, Board of Education; Reginald Paige, Charter Oak parent; Jennifer Samuels, former Charter Oak parent; Nichole Segar, Charter Oak parent; Amy Yarbrough, Smith STEM School parent; and Deb Zipkin, Director of the Charter Oak Family Resource Center.
Three additional committee members – a Democrat and Republican from the Town Council and a Republican Board of Education member – will also be named.
The committee will be supported by the the district's administrators as well as several Charter Oak teachers, Charter Oak Principal Mary Thompson, and Smith STEM School Principal Juan Melian.
The timeframe for completion of the makeover will be determined once a decision has been made about the scope of the project. When the project was announced, Putterman said that it is the board's hope that there will be "something new for students to walk into in the fall of 2015."