Common Ground’s Charter Is Up For Renewal, And We Need Your Voice

by Liz Cox, School Director & Joel Tolman, Director of Impact & Engagement

Common Ground High School’s charter is up for renewal this year. If you value what our small high school contributes to the community, we need you to put what matters to you in writing this September, and show up for a public hearing on Thursday, October 10th. Please keep reading to learn how you can help!  

A parent speaks about her child’s experience at Common Ground’s last renewal hearing, in 2014.

Renewal is a normal and important part of being a public charter school. It’s a chance to demonstrate that we are making a difference, and that we are doing right by our students and the community. It’s a rigorous process — including a written application, a site visit, submission of dozens of documents, and a public hearing. Staff from the State Department of Education look at everything from our teacher’s certification, to our finances, to how well we support students with special needs, to what’s going on in each of our classrooms. And, at the end of the process, the State Board of Education votes whether to renew our charter for 5 years, 3 years, or another amount of time. Renewal is definitely important, but not a cause for alarm or concern. We’ve been through it five times since Common Ground opened its doors in 1997 as one of Connecticut’s first charters, and as the country’s first charter high school focused on the environment. 

One of the things the State Department of Education looks at most is whether members of our community — students, families, neighbors, partners — value Common Ground. This is also one of the most important and meaningful parts of renewal — a chance to say in writing, out loud, and with our presence. why Common Ground matters to us. Here is how you can help:

Common Ground needs your voice — through written testimony, your presence at our renewal hearing, and perhaps even being a speaker at this hearing.

  1. We would like to invite you to submit written testimony, sharing why you think Common Ground deserves to have its charter renewed. Testimony can be emailed to, and should be addressed to: State Board of Education – CT State Department of Education – 165 Capitol Avenue – Hartford, CT 06106. When you write, please include your name and your organizational affiliation (if that’s appropriate), and describe your relationship with Common Ground. Most importantly, please describe why you think Common Ground is an important community asset. Here is a link to a fact sheet that includes some numbers, and here’s a template that you can use as a starting point — but what’s most valuable is your individual voice and experience.
  2. We hope that you will attend a public hearing on Thursday October 10th, 6-8pm, at Wilbur Cross High School, 181 Mitchell Drive in New Haven. The renewal hearing is, in our experience, a powerful event — a chance for students, alumni, partners, community members, elected officials, and others to share why Common Ground matters to them. You are welcome to join us for dinner beforehand at 4:30 at Common Ground. We hope to see you there — we need to turn out in force to show that Common Ground matters to our community!

Have questions? Reach out to, or 203.389.4333 x1214.


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