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Norwalk, Our Piece of the Pie unite; new Briggs in offing

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s alternative high school doesn’t just have a cultural makeover in progress, Superintendent Manual Rivera said Tuesday. It’s likely to move into better quarters relatively soon, he said.

Asked by Board of Education member Migdalia Rivas whether a new location is in store for Briggs High School, Rivera boldly made a commitment for the future.

“I’ll jump out there, why not?” he said. “That building, I think we should actually look at options in the future. Whether it’s two years for now, or one year from now – one year would be an awfully quick transition – I think it’s something we should explore.”

The discussion came as the board considered a contract with Our Piece of the Pie, an education organization that works with urban youth that was approved by the state to be the BOE’s partner in the Briggs turnaround plan as part of the state Commissioner’s Network.

The contract was approved, but not before Rivas expressed reservations about the right of refusal given to OPP on future Briggs principals. Rivera and Assistant Superintendent Tony Daddona said that was part of the expectations from the state, that the board will choose future candidates, with OPP being restricted to a veto.

“Once you’re a turnaround school, the commissioner basically will have the ultimate say, the final say on who you’re going to appoint a new principal,” Daddona said. “We are a turnaround school for a minimum of three to five years.”

Daddona said Briggs Principal Marie Allen will have the responsibility of overseeing OPP’s work and making sure the state grant is complied with.

Rivera said Briggs still belongs to Norwalk, but the state has a major say in its turnaround activities. He expressed confidence in OPP.

“There are aspects of the services that they will provide that I’m aware have worked very well for students and have helped turn their lives around in other schools,” he said.

In addition, the state has approved a $302,000 bond to fund work, furniture and technology at the school, he said.

Rivas abstained from the vote.

Our Piece of the Pie Chief Operating Officer Hector Rivera (shown above) spoke to the board .

“Briggs will be something to be proud of very soon,” he said.

The school currently has 63 students enrolled, but Rivera said that may get as high as 100 as the school year develops. It may have 200 to 250 in future years, he said.

Daddona agreed Briggs needs to be replaced.

“It’s very obvious,” he said. “I agree with Manny here, if our projection is to have 200 to 250 students in that building, we know that the present building at Briggs isn’t going to support that many students. It’s too small. The facility doesn’t have any science labs or any other areas that we need. Long term, we’re going to have to look for a larger building and a building that is more suitable for high school students.”

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