Innovations forum short on details.


Byline: Jacqueline Reis

WORCESTER - People who attended last night's listening and learning session at the Dr. Arthur F. Sullivan Middle School in the hopes of hearing about sweeping changes in the city for the next school year may have been disappointed.

There aren't going to be any in September, no grade reconfigurations and no innovation schools, Superintendent Melinda J. Boone said last night.

The district will still have to implement turnaround plans at its two lowest-performing schools, Union Hill and Chandler Elementary Community School, but everything else remains at the discussions level. So when some of the 50 people who attended last night's meeting asked Chief Academic Officer Jeffrey J. Mulqueen for details on what innovation schools could look like in Worcester, he didn't have anything concrete to tell them. In fact, he said, he wanted to hear their ideas on what would be useful.

"We're at the point of gathering information to see if this makes sense to people," he said. "I don't know what it would look like. It would be generated at the grass-roots level."

The crowd, which included parents, teachers and most of the School Committee, seemed skeptical, but Mr. Mulqueen emphasized that this is the beginning of a process. Ms. Boone said later that they will continue gathering input, work on it over the summer and have more concrete plans available for discussion in the fall.

Last night's meeting focused on innovation schools in particular, a new form of school the state approved in its latest education reform law. Innovation schools are intended to have more autonomy over things such as staff and curriculum but still be part of a traditional school district, much like Worcester's University Park Campus School, a collaboration of the local school system and Clark University. The idea was to give...

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