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Cooper Asks State to Wait on Intervention

After spending over an hour with state officials, Superintendent of Schools Kelt Cooper asked them not to take-over New Britain schools.

Instead, he wants time to see if he can revitalize the school system.

“There is some good money that is attached to it. But, money means there are strings attached to it. We will look over it in the future to see if it is something we want or not,” said Cooper. “Hopefully, we can come up with something that will be very aggressive and effective…I emphasized our position and told them we don’t want state intervention. We believe we can roll up our sleeves and do it our way.”

“He would like the opportunity to do the job we hired him to do before the state looks to takeover parts of our district,” said Sharon Beloin-Saavedra. “The Board has told him to increase literacy rates and increase graduation rates. He is seeking time from the state to accomplish those goals, but the state will be watching our district for sure.”

The state has proposed Network Schools in which the City could get as much as $2 million for a school. The state would take over the school to try and fix it in three years and may or may not give control back to the City. Principals and most teachers would be eliminated.

Cooper said he would like to do a number of things first, including introduce an administrative academy.

“We might be able to dovetail our efforts,” said Cooper. “Any additional training we can get for administrators can’t be bad.”

Cooper said that there are teachers that are grandfathered in that are certified as bilingual teachers, but they are not certified as an elementary, secondary or content teacher. He would like them to get certified and acquire more bilingual teachers.

“Teachers that are not certified in content, does not make sense to me,” said Saavedra.

Cooper also said student distribution numbers are still being worked out as the district goes back to neighborhood schools.

There are some other changes Cooper said he wants to implement. One is change Kaizen Thursdays from every week to once a month.

“None of these plans are simple,” said Cooper. “If you calculate the number of days lost it is 18 to 19 days that are not occurring. We need to place value on kids learning. Every moment is precious. There is not enough time in a day for what is required for us to accomplish.”

He said the same thing may come to field trips.

“Any time you have students that are not engaged with a teacher and direct learning, then that has to be compensated with something of equal or greater than,” said Cooper. “I’m proposing we come back to the board with an amended calendar.”

Cooper said he wants to maximize time and maintain a balance. He also wants schools to go back to a more traditional report cards such as using “A, B and C’s”.

“I’ve charged our staff with looking at that and coming up with a version or recording student progress that is more understanding to parents,” said Cooper. “There needs to be an understanding code that is familiar to many of us.”

Cooper also said he wants to look at attendance policies.

“We have students missing 60-70-80 days,” said Cooper. “It’s not fair for a student to be just passed along. At that point we have done the child a greater injustice.”

He said there are a lot of reasons for it that no one knows, but he wants a policy made to retain students.

“Those are some of the big issues that have been on my mind,” said Cooper.