Bridgeport parents, teachers outraged over plan to move dozens of students to different school

Parents outraged over plan to move dozens of Bridgeport students

BRIDGEPORT — Parents and teachers are raising concerns about plans to move Wilbur Cross School's seventh and eighth graders to the nearby Thomas Hooker School due to a teacher shortage

The Bridgeport Board of Education is currently considering an ambitious effort to relocate about 66 students to the pre-K-8 school on Roger Williams Road as soon as Monday. 

But the proposal has outraged some parents and teachers who told board members during a special meeting Wednesday that they felt blindsided by the decision to abruptly relocate dozens of students in the middle of the academic year. 

Conrad Savariaul, the vice president of Thomas Hooker’s Parent Advisory Council, said he was frustrated that district administrators have not offered more information about the plan and how it will impact students.  

“I need answers,” he said. “You guys are coming up with plans but there’s no detailed plan of action. And if there is a plan of action, how are you going to execute said plan of action? We need to know.” 

Interim Superintendent Alyshia Perrin, a former principal who was appointed to the temporary role in early November, said she made the decision to relocate the students after learning Wilbur Cross’s seventh and eighth grade students were being taught by just one certified teacher. 

Perrin said school officials chose to send the students to Thomas Hooker for the rest of the year due to its proximity and relatively low class sizes. The school’s 68 seventh and eighth graders are currently served by five teachers.  

“When we looked at the class loads, it was determined that seventh and eighth grade classes at Hooker would be able to absorb these students,” Perring said. She added that some Wilbur Cross staff members will split time between the two schools after the move. 

Still, some teachers are worried they’re not yet ready for such a large change. Katie Smuckler, a sixth grade teacher at Thomas Hooker, warned board members that the school does not yet have classrooms and lockers prepared for the incoming students. She called the relocation plan irresponsible. 

“No one believes that this transition has been planned out thoroughly enough. It is clearly being pushed forward too fast,” she said. “We want to welcome them and we want to make them feel like a part of our school, but that’s impossible if we’re not able to prepare for their arrival.” 

Lore Webster-Long, a fifth grade teacher at Wilbur Cross, urged the school board to prevent similar situations from taking place in the future. She noted many teachers have left the district in recent years due to large work loads and low pay compared with neighboring school systems. 

“Please give us the support we need. Please give (students) the support they need. We beg of you,” she said. “Since there’s so many teachers missing, there must be money somewhere.” 

The school board is scheduled to hold an online meeting at 10:30 a.m. Friday to discuss and vote on the relocation plan. The meeting will be held on Microsoft Teams and will be live streamed online, according to the agenda

Twitter @RichChumney.