The groundbreaking of a larger Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) Reggio Magnet School of the arts is not only turning the soil on Waterville Road but also for increased opportunities in education.
This is such an exciting experience for us," Denise M. Gallucci, CREC deputy executive director and superintendent of schools, said after a groundbreaking ceremony Friday. "It's a privilege for us to offer this opportunity to kids in the capitol region."
The magnet school was established in 2008 at Fisher Road in Avon as part of a settlement for Sheff vs. O'Neill, according to Donald Walsh, CREC deputy executive director. The incentive behind the 1990 lawsuit was to create adequate educational opportunities for Hartford children and eliminate the "pocket of racial isolation," he said.
Gallucci, of Avon, has seen progress too. Many times, impoverished pre-kindergarten children who take the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test when they start at Reggio are one or two standard deviations below the mean. By kindergarten, they are often at or above the standard.
Gallucci, whose daughter, Avery, 8, is a Reggio student, called Principal Josie Dipietro-Smith's "a gifted educator."
"It's an amazing day for us," DiPietro-Smith said.
CREC planned to open the school in September 2013, but Walsh said the new target date is January 2014. The construction was delayed because the Planning and Zoning application process went longer than expected, he said. Until then, approximately 300 pre-kindergarten to fifth grade Reggio students are taking their classes at a temproary facility on Security Drive that's owned by Mark Greenberg.
"The kids love it, the staff loves it and the parents love it also," Walsh said.
The 2008 settlement called for the creation of seven magnet schools – Reggio, the Public Safety Academy in Enfield, Medical Professions and Teacher Preparatory Academy in New Britain, International Magnet School in East Hartford, Discovery Academy, Aerospace and Engineering Academy in Windsor and Museum Academy. Thursday marked the groundbreaking for the Enfield and New Britain magnet schools and the International Magnet School groundbreaking was last week. Discovery Academy is currently in Wethersfield temporarily and will be relocated to South Windsor once a new site is built.