Friday, September 22, 2017

Central High No Longer on Probation

Conn Post 5/4/2011

BRIDGEPORT -- The largest urban high school in the state is no longer on probation.

After three years, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges' Commission on Public Secondary Schools lifted the probationary status from Central High School. Principal Anne Engleson was informed of the decision last week and the news was made public Monday.

On Tuesday, NEASC finally took Central off its probationary list on its website, where it has sat by itself for some time.

"It's major," Engleson said of getting what she considered "a cloud" lifted off the school.

"It's great," said Bill Morton, a social studies teacher who, along with fellow social studies teacher Candice Dritschler co-chaired the accreditation committee. For three years they, along with Aresta Johnson, director of Central Magnet School, worked with a team of others to address curriculum, instruction and facility concerns outlined by NEASC in a 2008 report.

NEASC could have decided to keep Central on probation in any of those areas, Engleson said.

Morton said NEASC could have fully accredited Central with a normal two-year review, given it accreditation with a special report, accreditation with a warning or kept it on probation. Late last month, the commission met and voted to give Central accreditation with a special report, meaning some areas must be addressed within one year.

"A lot of people were concerned about being on probation. They wanted to make that go away," said Morton.

On probation, a school can still hand out diplomas but it is a stigma no school wants to have, he added.

The letter taking the school off probation, signed by Janet Allison, director of NEASC, commends Central in a number of areas, including having an effective curriculum revision plan, opportunities for students to learn beyond the school day, its climate, partnerships and student services.

NEASC also listed areas of concerns that must be addressed by Feb. 1, 2012, including a confirmation the school has sufficient instructional materials, technology and equipment, that teachers are given more opportunities to assume leadership roles in the building and plans to improve the facility are implemented.

When the school was put on probation, it was largely because of overcrowded conditions, a deteriorated facility and a lack of sufficient funds going toward instruction. Dritschler said the school received a new heating system, new windows, fresh paint and some minor renovations.

An auto shop was turned into classroom space before NEASC sent a 20-member site team to the school last November. In March, the school received a 70-page report with 70 recommendations and 55 commendations.

Teachers plan a staff celebration on Wednesday with Schools Superintendent John Ramos and Assistant Superintendent Denise Clemons. A separate celebration for students is scheduled for May 12.

NEASC officials did not return repeated calls for comment.

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