New London notes progress on improvements to high school

New London - The school district has met 88 percent of the 72 recommendations the New England Association of Schools and Colleges issued to the city's high school five years ago, Principal William "Tommy" Thompson said on Thursday.

Three years ago, only 29 percent of the recommendations were reported as having been addressed, Thompson said at the Board of Education's School Facilities and Program Design Committee meeting Thursday.

New London High School has failed, since 1988, to address key building issues and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The school has been in danger of losing its accreditation and was on warning as NEASC cited the school on its need to make facility improvements and meet ADA code.

NEASC also recommended changes in curriculum and raising student achievement.

Those areas, Thompson said, are where the school has made the most progress. Last year, the school recorded its best Connecticut Academic Performance Test scores in more than five years. Students are receiving more help, faster, thanks to specific testing three times a year, he said.

The school still needs to meet six accreditation standards in curriculum and community resources for learning. They were reported to NEASC as being "in progress," Thompson said.

"As far as curriculum, we still have electives to complete, and as we pursue the magnet programming, it will be important for us to develop magnet curriculum," he said. "Community resources, that's a difficult one for us. As a school, we've documented and developed a need for facility improvement. ... We have reported that we're optimistic that through the magnet district, we will see some facility improvements realized."

As part of their 10-year visit to the high school in 2008, NEASC officials spent three days doing a full assessment of the school, Thompson said.

The State Bond Commission in January approved a $3 million allocation to cover the costs of the design phase of renovating the high school as new. Special master Steven Adamowski said Thursday that the high school would likely not receive full NEASC accreditation until it was renovated "as new."

Committee Chairman Jason Catala praised Thompson and Margaret Bucaram, chairman of the high school's NEASC committee, for the improvement.

"Eighty-eight percent seems very commendable. That seems like a large achievement that you were able to do that," Catala said. "The 12 percent that you didn't, it seems like a lot of that is not in your court."

j.hanckel@theday.com

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