New Britain School District outlines path forward amid challenges, scandals

NEW BRITAIN --  New changes are coming to New Britain schools as the district grapples with major challenges.

The changes follow several major scandals over the last several weeks that lead to the resignation of one principal and the suspension of another. The district ranks 164 out of 166 across the state in terms of student achievement.

It faces falling attendance rates and budget cuts.

“I wasn’t really surprised. I lived in New Britain my entire life and I myself have struggled in the schools,” said New Britain native Krystal Tanner.

“We have to face the reality of a shrinking budget. Our budget continues to shrink every single year,” said Consolidated School District of New Britain Superintendent Nancy Sarra.

In anticipation of more budget cuts, Sarra is planning for $2.5 million less next school year as well as  another million in transportation savings. During a public meeting Thursday, Sarra laid out an extensive redesign plan for the district that includes new curriculum, testing practices and schedules.

Last week news broke that New Britain High School principal Joseph Pinchera resigned from his position following an investigation into allegations of misconduct and harassment.

In April, two fourth-grader students at DiLoreto Magnet School were suspended after bringing knives to school.

In a statement, Superintendent Nancy Sarra said Principal Alejandro Ortiz was placed on unpaid leave for failing to notify parents in a timely manner and not taking the threat more seriously.

New Britain native Maya Tillman has children at the magnet school but doesn’t think the principal did anything wrong.

“In my opinion I do believe that the parents were told in a timely manner, said New Britain native Maya Tillman.

“It seemed that there, they reassured us that it was an isolated incident.”

Parents such as Krystal Tanner said they believe the district is headed in the right direction under Sarra’s leadership.

“Anything that will help my children want to graduate from high school is a bonus,” Tanner said.

Sarra said the district would need an extra $30 million to catch up to better performing schools throughout the state. She also said she would be happy with an extra million.