The story in today’s paper mentions a handful of ideas for correcting the racial imbalance in our schools, all attributed to unnamed officials:
* Establishing longer school days and longer school years for Smith and Charter Oak.
* Expanding student supervision from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. by creating more before- and after-school programs.
* Launching a new magnet theme at Charter Oak. Officials say the global studies theme is outdated now that most schools offer expanded language education.
* Changing Charter Oak to a K-8 school whose appeal would be smaller class sizes and programs for gifted and talented students. The school, like Smith, currently serves pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
* Working with the state and the Children’s Museum to build a new, regional magnet elementary school that would reserve a majority of its spots for West Hartford students, but also draw pupils from the whole Hartford region. School officials say the state would pay 95 percent of the costs for such a project.
* School officials also must weigh what to do with Norfeldt. Several officials questioned how much longer the north-end school, which serves a nearly 80 percent white population, and a significant population of special-needs students, will continue to offer its magnet program.
I’m especially intrigued with the Children’s Museum option, given that it needs to move and putting the new building in Elmwood would serve a variety of useful purposes. If it could be tied to a new school, so much the better (though I wouldn’t want to see the existing Charter Oak School abandoned because it’s a gem).
An Andover resident has been appointed interim director of The Children’s Museum in West Hartford.
Hank Gruner of Andover was named to the post on Friday following the recent retirement of Edward J. Forand Jr., who was the museum’s president and chief executive officer, a news release said.
Gruner has been with the museum, formerly known as the Science Center of Connecticut, since 1984. He most recently served as vice president of programs and exhibits and had the responsibility for leading the museum’s future planning efforts, the release said.
“Hank Gruner is the heart and soul of the museum, with many years of experience in museum management and programming,” said Howard Shafer, museum board chairman. “We are fortunate to have a professional of his caliber on staff to continue the ongoing operations of The Children’s Museum.”
Along with Gruner’s leadership skills and the talented expertise of the staff, the museum is in a strong position to move forward, Shafter said.
He also said that the museum is commencing a search for a new executive director.
Gruner is a renowned Connecticut biologist and has more than 20 years of experience as a herpetologist conducting field research and working with local, state, and regional planning agencies on the conservation of amphibians and reptiles.
Gruner serves as the biodiversity coordinator for Connecticut programs under the auspices of the Wildlife Conservation Society. He also serves as coordinator for the statewide Connecticut Amphibian Monitoring Project.
Gruner has been recognized by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Connecticut chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the Garden Club of America for his contributions to conservation and education.
He received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Connecticut.