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OPEN LETTER TO THE NEW HAVEN BOARD OF EDUCATION

IN SUPPORT OF ELM CITY IMAGINE & THE NHPS-AF PARTNERSHIP


February 6, 2015
New Haven Board of Education
54 Meadow Street
New Haven, CT 06519
Dear New Haven Board of Education Members, Mayor Harp and Superintendent Harries,
As you know, the future of New Haven depends on us providing our children with a high-quality education that
equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. Over the last five years, NHPS has prioritized and
advanced reforms through its School Change Initiative that have put more of our students and schools on a path
towards success. We commend you for this progress and for the political courage and leadership that has been
required to see these changes through.
However, as you also know, there is still a long way to go before this success extends to all New Havens students
and schools. Additional bold, innovative, and best-in-practice solutions are required to bring about success for all
students. To this end, we were very encouraged recently to learn about the creation of Elm City Imagine and the
proposed collaborative partnership between New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) and Achievement First (AF). As
leaders deeply invested in the success of New Haven, all our citizens, and our collective future, we urge you to
support this collaboration. Along with other proposed reforms that Superintendent Harries recently outlined, these
exciting initiatives are exactly the types of measures that NHPS should be undertaking to continue the forward
momentum in our city and ensure that all of our students succeed.
To begin, Elm City Imagine promises to be an excellent, high-quality public school option for New Haven families.
The school will offer an innovative new school design model, which draws on best practices from across the country,
the latest learnings from cognitive science, and the best thinking of some of New Havens own students, parents, and
teachers. Students will be provided with accelerated academics, taught habits of success, experience excellent
enrichment opportunities, and be supported by a powerful school community that will help them on their path
towards success in college, career and life. In addition, Elm City Imagine would be run by Achievement First, one
of the top public charter networks in the country, which started right here in New Haven and has an impressive,
proven track record of student success. At full size, Elm City Imagine would serve 550 New Haven children, most
of who would be from low-income, high-need families.
Further, given that state charters are separately funded by the state in Connecticut, Elm City Imagine would offer
significant financial benefits to our community. If approved, additional state dollars would be allocated to fund
these new charter school seats, which would allow New Haven Public Schools to strategically and significantly
reduce class size at other high-needs schools. Not only would students in the new school benefit, but students and
teachers in other district schools would benefit as well.
We are also enthusiastic about other elements of the proposed partnership between NHPS and AF, specifically the
commitment to identify and share best practices. For too long, the citys traditional public and public charter schools
have operated separately while trying to do the same important work. Both have much to learn from the other, and
we hope this partnership will be a bridge for future learning and collaboration in the best interest of students. We
also appreciate the willingness of all parties to address issues that have caused tension in the past, notably mid-year
transfers in and out of schools. We all need to be paying attention to students who are not successful and parents
who are not satisfied and responding thoughtfully to those needs. Moreover, more consistent enrollment practices
across all New Havens schools will only serve to further enhance the stability and performance of the overall
system.
Taken together, we see these initiatives as a win for families who will be provided with a new high-quality school
option, a win for other NHPS schools who will benefit from a significant class size reduction in the early grades, and

a win for our broader community who have and will continue to come together to learn, innovate, and do whats
needed for our kids.
Under your leadership, New Haven schools have been moving in the right direction but, there is an urgent need to
do more still. Our families deserve it and demand it and as leaders in this community, we join with them in their
call for this Board to keep the progress going and to continue to advance the bold reforms needed to extend
opportunity and academic success to all of New Havens children.
Sincerely,
Pastor Curtis Antrum, Abundant Harvest Outreach Ministries
Marna P. Borgstrom, CEO, Yale-New Haven Hospital
Hon. Darryl J. Brackeen, Jr., New Haven Board of Alders (Ward 26)
Darrell Brooks, Executive Director, Beulah Land Development Corporation
Bishop Theodore L. Brooks, Sr., Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church
Magaly Cajigas, Parent Leader Team, Elm City College Prep Middle
Anne Tyler Calabresi
Erik Clemons, CEO & President, ConnCAT
James Farnam, Farnam Associates, LLC
Chaka Felder-McEntire, M.S., Founder & Executive Director, Higher Heights Youth Empowerment Program
Pastor Todd Foster, Church on the Rock
Hon. Richard Furlow, New Haven Board of Alders (Ward 27)
William W. Ginsberg
Carlton L. Highsmith, Board Chair, Connecticut Center for Arts & Technology
Howard K. Hill, CEO, HKH Funeral Services
Roberta Hoskie, President/CEO, Outreach Realty Services
Mark Ifill-Haney & Reval Martinez, Youth Leaders, Youth UnleashED

Jacqueline James, Former Vice President, Board of Alders


Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., President, University of New Haven
Pastor Robert D. Keene, Sr., Faith Power Deliverance Center
Dorsey L. Kendrick, Ph.D., President, Gateway Community College
Robert Kreitler, Founding Partner, Kreitler Financial

Helen Landy & Linda Faye Wilson, Parent Leaders, Teach Our Children
Amos Lee Smith, M.S.W., LICSW, President and C.E.O., Community Action Agency of New Haven
Kirsten Levinsohn, Executive Director New Haven Reads
Linda Townsend Maier, Executive Director, Greater Dwight Development Corporation
Sean Matteson, Chief Operating Officer, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN)
Paul A. McCraven
Julia M. McNamara, Ph.D., President, Albertus Magnus College
Dr. Fred McKinney, President and CEO, Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council
Roslyn Milstein Meyer
Rev. Eldren D. Morrison, Varick AME Zion Church
Seila Mosquera, Executive Director, NeighborWorks New Horizons
Khadijah Muhammad, Parent Leader Council, Amistad Academy Middle
Rev. James Newman, Pastor of New Freedom Baptist Church & President of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association

Mary A. Papazian, Ph.D., President, Southern Connecticut State University


Barbara L. Pearce, President & CEO, Pearce Real Estate
Anthony P. Rescigno, President, Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce
Jessica Sager, Executive Director,& Janna Wagner, Chief Knowledge and Learning Officer, All Our Kin, Inc.
Peter Salovey, Ph.D., President, Yale University
Gwendolyn Samuel, Connecticut Parents Union
Valarie Shultz-Wilson, President & CEO, Urban League of Southern Connecticut
Pastor Robert Smith, Mount Calvary Deliverance Tabernacle
Hon. Carlton Staggers, New Haven Board of Alders (Ward 30)
Larry Stewart, Board Chair, Community Action Agency of New Haven & Executive Project Manager, TRI Con
Construction Managers, LLC
James P. Torgerson, President and CEO, UIL Holdings Corp.
Sandra Trevino, CEO & Executive Director, JUNTA for Progressive Action