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Bridgeport families discuss student shake up outside Thomas Hooker School

Starting Jan. 23, 66 seventh- and eighth-grade students at Wilbur Cross School will be moved to Thomas Hooker School.

News 12 Staff

Jan 14, 2023, 6:03 PM

Updated 526 days ago

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Bridgeport families came together Saturday to discuss their children being forced to move to schools because of teacher vacancies.
Starting Jan. 23, 66 seventh- and eighth-grade students at Wilbur Cross School will be moved to Thomas Hooker School.
Twenty people attended a gathering Saturday outside Hooker school to discuss the move.
"We want to stand with Wilbur Cross and its teachers and its parents. We're not opposed to them," said City Council Member Maria Pereira, who represents the district.
"Give them a chance. Maybe it will work," urged Wilbur Cross parent Samantha Cheetham. "I feel like this is something that I feel like will work if you give the students a chance."
Pereira, however, said she went through a similar experience with her own daughter, who had 10 different math teachers during the course of her seventh-grade school year and she believes this plan will be too disruptive for students.
"I'm calling on the acting superintendent and the School Board to put a pause on this plan regarding transferring 66 students from Wilbur Cross into Thomas Hooker in the middle of the school year," Pereira said.
Pereira said the district did not consult parents or staff at either school in developing the plan, which she said is disrespectful to both groups.
Officials said Wilbur Cross held a meeting with parents this past week, while Hooker will hold a meeting Wednesday in the school library at 5 p.m.
The office of interim superintendent issued a statement, which reads, "The Bridgeport Public Schools is taking action to address certified teaching vacancies at the Pk-8 Wilbur Cross School. The 7th and 8th grade classes at Cross have been without 3 certified staff members since the school year began on August 28, 2022, and the District has been unable to secure long-term substitute teachers for these vacancies. Nationwide, there are widespread shortages in special education teachers, math and science teachers, and Bridgeport has been feeling the effects of this teacher shortage. Effective January 23, 2023, the 7th and 8th grade students of Wilbur Cross (66 students) will join the Thomas Hooker 7th and 8th grade school community. Hooker is a Pk-8 school with a total enrollment of 268 students, 68 of whom are in the 7th and 8th grade. Hooker has the capacity in the building to welcome the 66 students from Wilbur Cross and the staffing model to provide all of the students with a certified, high-quality,
quality, educator in every classroom. This operational change in the District supports a recent study by the RAND Corporation which found that, 'nearly all school districts changed operations on one or more of their schools during the 2021-2022 school year because of teacher shortages.' Ms. Alyshia Perrin, Interim Superintendent of Bridgeport states that, 'this change centers equity for our students and provides them with unique opportunities to connect with peers and staff across the city.' District administration has been working with the respective building principals, teachers, Parent Action Committees, and parent community to ensure a positive transition for students, staff and families."


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