News Column

Proposed Site For Hartford Performing Arts School Draws Opposition

January 29, 2014

By Vanessa De La Torre, The Hartford Courant

Jan. 29 -- HARTFORD -- A group of parents and students at the Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts say they oppose the district's chosen site for the school's new $33 million high school to be constructed in the city. District administrators have recommended city-owned land next to SAND School on Main Street , a location that Stephanie Capps , Kinsella's parent-teacher organization president, argued is "so far away" from Kinsella's elementary and middle school across town on Van Block Avenue . With the proposed site, just northeast of Albany Avenue , Capps told the school board this week that the high school would become "another high-performing arts school," rather than an extension of the Kinsella community where city and suburban students attend prekindergarten to eighth grade in the same building near Colt Park . Kinsella has a temporary high school site about a mile away on Locust Street that enrolls students in grades 9 and 10. The magnet school, created as part of the Sheff v. O'Neill desegregation agreement, will expand to 12th grade in the coming years. The new high school building needs up to 95,000 square feet to accommodate 400 students, district administrators said. Other sites explored over the past two years, including property near the Bushnell and in Colt Park , "have been deemed unfeasible for various reasons," they wrote to the board. The district asked for approval of the Main Street site so planners can forward with design and construction. The school board, scheduled to vote on the proposal Monday night, instead tabled the matter until next week. Board member Richard Wareing , who chaired Monday's meeting, said Tuesday that the board wants more information about possible school locations. "Before we make such an important decision we want to be certain there are no other viable options," he said. Kinsella sophomore Tiana Concepcion said she has attended the performing arts school since kindergarten. The 16-year-old is now the school's student body president. "This part of town has been our home," Concepcion said of Kinsella's Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood. Hanna Petrisko , co-chairwoman of Kinsella's school governance council, said Kinsella leaders are still investigating sites near the school, and so the impending vote came as a surprise. "A hasty vote on this important matter could negatively impact the success of Kinsella High School and erase opportunities to foster partnerships in the Hartford community," Petrisko wrote in an email to the board Friday. Another parent, Linda Feliciano of Plainville , told the board she would be frank. She would not allow her daughter, a freshman from East Hartford , to attend school in "the North End ," Feliciano said Monday, because "I don't feel safe in this area." A Hartford mother who spoke after Feliciano defended the neighborhood. ___ (c)2014 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: Hartford Courant (CT)

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