WNPR

Hartford Moves Ahead With $100 Million Project for New Weaver High School

Jul 20, 2016

After years of being in limbo, a high school in North Hartford is finally on its way to getting a $100 million makeover. Three separate schools will be housed there, part of the city's efforts to deal with declining enrollment.

For the last six years, Weaver High School has gone through nearly a half-dozen renovation plans. The latest one will be pulling students in from around the city to the north end, instead of focusing on those who live nearby.

This has city school board member Robert Cotto, Jr. concerned.

"I think people are feeling they're between a rock and a hard place," Cotto said. "I think there's a lot of misinformation as far as what's going on, and people were told this was the only plan you're going to get, and if you don't go along with this plan that we threw together, you're not going to get a new Weaver."

Cotto was the only board member to vote against the plan, though he had previously approved "at least three or four" earlier ones. One earlier plan fell through because the school administration couldn't figure out which schools to relocate to Weaver.

If all goes forward as planned, the school will open in the fall of 2019.

Three schools are consolidating because some of the city's magnet schools have failed to attract enough students. The schools that will now be housed at Weaver are the Journalism and Media Academy, Kinsella Magnet High School, and High School Inc., which focuses on business and finance.

But many residents worry that Weaver will again fall by wayside. The school is in Hartford's north end, an area that residents say is often ignored by the city.

"As always in the north end of Hartford, our schools are always slated to close or left behind," said Precious Ross-Ellis, a parent who lives nearby.

"Our community is not that vivacious -- that goes out and fights," she said. "They always sit back and hoping that the powers that be will do the right thing. And more and more we're seeing that that's not happening."

The state has agreed to pay 95 percent of the $100 million price tag. Budget problems at the city and state level further complicate the renovation, even though renovation talks have been happening since 2010.