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A Look at Hartford and its Schools


Hartford, Connecticut, is home to numerous recent immigrants, as well as those who struggle with poverty. The schools are challenged to help all these students compete in a high-achieving state. Included: Descriptions of Hartford's city and school population.

Parkville Community School is fighting its way upward in a district and city overflowing with challenges.

Hartford Schools At A Glance

  • Total enrollment: 24,447
  • Ethnic breakdown:
    * Hispanic: 53.3 percent
    * African American: 40.4 percent
    * White: 5.3 percent
    * Asian American: 0.8 percent
    * Native American: 0.2 percent
  • Total number of schools: 40
    Elementary schools: 22
    Magnet schools: 12
    Middle schools: 3
    High schools: 3
  • Free or reduced-price lunch: 95 percent
  • Special education services: 16.7 percent
(Source: Hartford Public Schools)

Hartford, Connecticut's capital city, is one of the poorest cities in the U.S., in a state that reports the third-highest median income in the nation. Hartford also has the second highest rate of child poverty in the U.S. -- 41.3 percent.

Other Hartford facts:

  • Fewer than 25 percent of Hartford residents own their own homes, compared with a state average of 67 percent.
  • Only 30 percent of homes have Internet access.
  • Seventy-three percent of Hartford adults function at one of the two lowest levels of literacy.
  • Only 12 percent of Hartford's population has earned a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • More than 100 different ethnic groups call Hartford home; students enter the schools from about 93 different countries.

More than 50 languages are spoken in the schools and more than 10 percent of the population is newly arrived immigrants.

The district's latest immigrant wave is coming from Somalia and Liberia, according to district spokesman Terry D'Italia. Many of these children arrive in Hartford schools directly from refugee camps, and some have never held a pencil before, and don't know that a book is read from left to right, D'Italia added.

Last year, Hartford's mayor, Eddie A. Perez, appointed himself to the board of education and named himself chairman in an effort to accelerate school reform. The district currently is undergoing a superintendent search, and this year has an interim superintendent of schools, Jacqueline J. Jacoby.

Hartford Public Schools ranked last in the state this year for performance on the state's high-stakes, the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs). Only one Hartford school out of 40 made adequate yearly progress (AYP); two qualified for Safe Harbor, meaning the percentage of students who failed to achieve proficiency is 10 percent lower than it was the previous year.