NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Public Schools’ new family center will help the district establish long lasting relationships with families to ensure that their students’ academic success, said Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella.
“When you look across the country, family centers are a standard feature to support family engagement in many high performing districts,” Estrella said at an “official opening,” held Tuesday.
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NPS used federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to open the center at 1 Park St., the Human Services Council building. This required Common Council approval for ethernet services in December. It passed 6-3-2, with some Council members complaining of a lack of transparency by the school district.
Estrella had originally sought to open a family/welcome center in the former Briggs High School. The Park Street facility has been in use for several months.
“As many of you know, Norwalk Public School serves nearly 12,000 students in over 21 schools. Each year, over 2,000 new students enter our system and can begin their journey their academic journey alongside their families towards graduation, and ultimately move forward to a path of career and college.”
NPS serves about 1,500 new students a year with welcome center services, about 900 of them kindergartners and 1,450 of them multi-lingual learners, Estrella said. This year, there are families from Afghanistan and Ukraine.
“The center is a warm, friendly and welcoming environment that will provide easy access to registration, to acquire information, to attend workshops that will help our families navigate our education system, as well as give them an opportunity to voice their concerns and find a place where they can easily resolve any issues that might arise,” she said.
“This is something that long overdue, something that has taken a lot of people working together to make happen,” Mayor Harry Rilling said.
Anthony DiLauro, Human Services Council Executive Director said there is “so much energy in this building” since NPS moved its welcome center in. “This place is busy every day to make sure they take care of families and Norwalk.”