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Briggs High turnaround plan ready for Commissioner’s Network program

Norwalk BOE   056-20130521
Briggs High School Principal Marie Allen expresses faith in a turnaround plan for the school formed in conjunction with the Norwalk Board of Education under the state’s Commissioner’s Network program.

NORWALK, Conn. – The nearly complete turnaround plan for Briggs High School will make the school into a career academy, with advocate counselors committed to seeing the 200 or so students succeed, Norwalk officials said this week.

“It’s still going to be a small learning environment, with a maximum of 200 students, a career academy,” Principal Marie Allen told the Board of Education on Tuesday. “Students will basically have their academics in the morning. There may be a staggered entry. In the afternoon they may have paid internships throughout the community. You’re going to see that there will be students that are very successful in giving back to the community.”

Allen’s comments followed a presentation by Norwalk Instructional Specialist and Grants Coordinator Tally Negroni, an overview of the plan being formed under the state’s Commissioner’s Network program. Negroni said she had expected the plan to be completed in early May, but the back and forth with the state has been intense. She had expected more feedback Wednesday, and wanted to incorporate that into the plan and send it back Thursday.

“It seems to be more akin to writing a dissertation,” she said of the grant writing process – and she doesn’t even know how much of a grant the city is looking for, as the state’s biennial budget is not yet determined.

Interim Superintendent Tony Daddona said the budget being formulated is more or less a guess.

“That was the one question no one had an answer to,” he said. “You’re going to see in our budget ‘to be determined’ and that’s what they suggested we put in. What we are doing is we’re putting a budget together that goes with the program. Depending on how much money we get from them, we’ll adjust the budget.”

The plan is based on a transfer school model being used in New York City, Negroni said.

“Every student has an individualized graduation success plan, but the model talks about a partnership between the academic side and the student support side,” she said. “As someone said today, the principal and the director of student support services are joined at the hip and work together to make sure every student achieves their student success plan.”

Advocate counselors will be assigned 20 to 30 students.

“Their job is to make sure kids get to school, stay in school, do their bookwork, get whatever interventions they need, ensure that they have the support services that are required for them to be success and help them to become college and career ready,” Negroni said.

Students that don’t show up will get a visit, she said.

“If those kids don’t get to school after 2 or 3 days, they go out to the home, find the families, get them to commit to getting those kids back to school,” she said.

Board member Rosa Murray expressed skepticism and said she has seen this type of plan before.

“I’m just really concerned,” she said. “… We want to make sure that all of our students have a place and it doesn’t turn into a point where it’s a third high school.”

Allen said things are looking good.

“I think we’re well on our way,” she said. “ … I think we’re on the right track.”

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