Carly Fortin, director of teaching and learning, gave a presentation on the process of developing programming for the magnet school last Thursday before the Memorial Boulevard Intradistrict Arts Magnet School building committee.
The presentation was made at the Thursday, Feb. 28, meeting of the
The programming committee is developing a vision, Fortin explained, so that what is wanted from the graduates is consistent.
“The core vision of the graduate is that all Bristol Public Schools students will graduate with the essential academic knowledge, skills and dispositions that empower them to be self-sufficient, and make meaningful contributions to a rapidly changing global society,” said Fortin, who also explained there are four distinct skills that contribute to the vision.
“We want to see our students make meaningful contributions; we want our students to be able to communicate effectively within that global society; we want to have our students successfully employ skills for self-sufficiency; and then finally, demonstrate academic content and critical thinking skills,” said Fortin.
Fortin explained that the programming committee was made up of teachers, administrators, and community members, such as Bristol Central principal Pete Winninger, district athletics director Chris Cassin, Leah McCabe of Bristol Central, and former district director of arts, Lori Eschner, amongst others.
“Our core purpose at the time was to provide our architects with some design specifications, including the types of rooms that would be available within the school,” said Fortin.
The original plan for the magnet school was to have 525 students between grades six and 12. There were to be 16 academic classrooms and 16 teachers, two special support classrooms, and four science labs. These spaces would be used by both high school and middle school students. And, all students would receive “discipline-based, academic coursework.”
After reviewing updated graduation requirements, it was determined that there would be a need for approximately 23 or 24 teachers, and approximately 21 to 22 classroom spaces. But, Fortin explained, the committee “did not want to impact the art side of that to be able to put in these core classrooms.”
“We planned that students would take their academic core requirements at their high school, that reduces the number of classroom spaces that would be needed for those high school students,” said Fortin. “And then, that would mean that we could create a pathway of electives for students to take at the magnet school.”
Fortin said the “pathway” was defined by how many elective credits students would need. Currently, there is a set number of credits, in the range of four to six elective credits, but she explained it could go up to nine credits if the committee “wanted to really expand the pathways.”
She explained that at least one of the electives would offer college credit, at least one elective would be a CTE or career in technical education, which is a state requirement. And, that there would be “a work experience in a culmination demonstration kind of project from anyone participating in that pathway.”
To determine what the individual pathways would be, a smaller committee examined “where our community is currently working,” and “where were the highest paid jobs, where would those be in the future?”
Fortin said one of the critical questions in determining pathways was, “How do we meet and expand the opportunities for all students in Bristol?” The committee used this question as a guiding principle when considering if moving classes and teachers from the high schools to the magnet school would allow for a wider range of electives across the district.
“Our high schools would serve as a place for those students that couldn’t identify one particular pathway that they wanted to learn within more of a liberal studies approach,” said Fortin. These pathways could include the professional service industry, including engineering and manufacturing, as well as courses within education and human service, such as medical and public health.
Magnet school pathways would include creative construction, visual arts, musical arts, television/video and theatrical productions, entertainment and or sports management, and marketing and communications.
Fortin said the committee has yet to pursue curriculum options, such as set courses, but that they foresee having the day-to-day schedules and bus routes finalized by December 2019.
The next scheduled meeting of the Memorial Boulevard Intradistrict Arts Magnet School building committee is scheduled for Thursday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m., in room 36 of the Bristol Board of Education building, 129 Church St., Bristol.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.