Education

For-Profit Company To Run Hartford Schools

November 01, 1994 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Hartford, Conn., public school system has turned itself over to a private company. The unprecedented agreement, approved by the Hartford school board in October, entrusts the for-profit, Minneapolis-based company Education Alternatives Inc. with managing the district’s 32 schools and its annual budget of some $200 million.

“We are absolutely convinced that the current way of operating our schools does not work and cannot work,’' said Edward Carroll, a school board member who voted for the contract. The agreement, he said, will bring the district “some additional talent and resources and skills.’' He predicted that Hartford’s pact with EAI “will be a model for the rest of the country.’'

The legality of the contract, however, remains in question. Pedro Segarra, the city attorney, refused to add his signature, which he said was legally required. According to Segarra, the agreement violates the Hartford charter. In several areas, he explained, it gives the company financial powers that belong to city officials. The City Council, which opposes the contract, threatened to withhold the funds the district needs to pay the company.

School board members argue that Segarra’s signature is not needed on the contract and that the city is obligated to provide the payments under state law. At press time, Mayor Michael Peters was seeking to broker a compromise between the City Council and the school board. Meanwhile, John Golle, chief executive officer of EAI, said he considers the contract “signed, sealed, and delivered.’'

The agreement, which had been tentatively approved in August [See “Current Events,’' October], is the first in the nation to entrust all aspects of a school system’s operations, including its budget, to a private firm. The Minneapolis school board last year granted a less extensive contract to Public Strategies Group Inc., a private consulting firm in St. Paul. Under that agreement, the company’s president, Peter Hutchinson, serves as superintendent but does not control the budget and leaves most educational tasks to school officials.

Denis Doyle, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said the medium size and diverse demographics of Hartford make it a near-perfect setting for the experiment in private management. “If you were a researcher, and you wanted to pick a city to try it in, you would be hard-pressed to do better than Hartford,’' Doyle said.

The agreement provoked sharp criticism from the nation’s two major teachers’ unions, both of which have fought to keep EAI from gaining contracts. Keith Geiger, president of the National Education Association, said the company has done nothing in Baltimore, where it has managed nine schools since 1992 [See “Bullish on Schools,’' April 1993], to merit running an entire district. School boards and superintendents elsewhere, he said, have been able to address their problems “without lining the pockets of shareholders.’' Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called the contract “a scandal in the making.’'

Golle of EAI said the Hartford agreement calls for him to honor all existing union contracts but allows him to renegotiate labor agreements when they come up for renewal. He said he has no plans to significantly cut back on the district work force.

A version of this article appeared in the November 01, 1994 edition of Teacher as For-Profit Company To Run Hartford Schools


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP