A New Option Is Emerging in Danbury

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A New Option Is Emerging in Danbury

By Emanuela Palmares

A new option for educating our children is emerging in Danbury, and ALL in the community should set aside their pre-conceived notions about school choice and take a deeper look at Danbury Prospect.

Danbury Prospect is in its development phase. It is currently in the process of submitting a new charter school application to the Connecticut State Department of Education, to open a charter school in Danbury that will start with one hundred 6th graders, growing a grade each year until, at capacity, it would serve grades K-12.

Danbury Prospect will be a K-12 college preparatory community in which teachers prepare a diverse student body to have a positive impact on society and a lifelong passion for learning. Danbury Prospect will build its educational program around the globally recognized International Baccalaureate (IB) framework to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.

Over a year ago, when Danbury Prospect representatives first approached me, I was skeptical. Charter schools have been equated with a blind privatization of educational system, offering choice and access but failing terrible on quality. As a vested member of the community, I made a request to first visit the Prospect Charter in Brooklyn, NY and spend a day there.

So I did, and I saw a school that was so different. Three languages were on display in every sign; all students were seen as language learners. I could not help but see how perfect the diversity of our city would be for such a school, how their IB program would be a game changer for so many children in our community, in the way they would interact with each other as adults, seeing their humanity before seeing each other’s nationality, and caring for the world. I saw it all when I visited Prospect, in Brooklyn, and I hoped Danbury would be able to offer such an opportunity for its children.

As the seventh largest city in Connecticut, and the largest city without a public charter school, Danbury is a district in need of more public school options. Danbury is the fastest growing city in Connecticut, enrolling over 10,700 students, 56 percent of whom are considered low-income. Based on current projections, grades 6-8 will increase 28 percent over the next five years, further straining schools already at capacity, especially at Westside Academy and Rodgers Park Middle School.

Danbury’s public schools not only struggle with capacity but academic achievement levels as well. On the 2015-16 Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the District aggregate for the number of students in grades 3-8 who scored as proficient on English language arts (ELA) at levels 3-4 was 43 percent and the number of proficient students in mathematics at levels 3-4 was 47 percent.

A closer examination reveals a large proficiency gap when comparing Danbury’s middle school students to their statewide peers. In Danbury, 6th and 7th graders underperform their statewide peers in math by 10 and 14 percentage points respectively.

In ELA, the news is only marginally better, with 6th and 7th graders in Danbury scoring within 10 percentage points of their statewide peers – 41 and 42 percent respectively. Wanting to be responsive to the needs of the community, Danbury Prospect has committed to work in partnership with the District to improve middle school outcomes and provide more high-quality middle-school seats, which is why they have chosen to start with one hundred 6th graders.

As they continue to develop their program, they are seeking public participation that will help inform them of the issues and trends in our families and children, and the community at large.

If you want to know more about Danbury Prospect, and provide them with some of your thoughts on the having a charter school in Danbury, come to one of their information sessions at the Danbury Public Library at (Farioly Program Room) on:

  • Tuesday May 16, 10am-12pm and 5pm-7pm
  • Thursday June 1, 10am-12pm
  • Tuesday June 13, 10am-12pm and 5pm-7pm

You may also contact Tracy Kelly at tkelley@prospectschools.org or 443.474.1022.


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May 11, 2017

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