Defeat of Derby school expansion plan raises concern 
          By FELICIA HUNTER         Friday, June 16, 2000

DERBY - The negative impact a defeated school expansion project might have on Derby High School's accreditation was raised at Thursday night's Board of Education meeting. 

"I have expressed disappointment with the outcome of the referendum," said Karen Clark, one of two parents who spoke during the meeting's public portion.  "I want to know where we go from here, what's Plan B?  Also, how will it affect accreditation?" 

Clark said a fully accredited Derby High School "is a very big concern of mine.  I feel that the defeat of that referendum will have a big impact on that." 

               The New England Association of Secondary Schools will evaluate the high school for three days beginning Nov. 5, according to Principal Charles DiCenso.  The accreditation process takes place every 10 years, he said. 

               "Technically, the referendum won't have a direct impact," he said.  But it is an indicator of the community's willingness to support education, he said. 

               Last Saturday, residents voted down a proposed $40.8 million school expansion project which included construction of a new high school. 

               DiCenso said the November accreditation would involve about 15 teachers, administrators and superintendents from the New England area who will assess the high school in seven areas.  They will look at elements affecting quality of education such as curriculum, community support and administrative structure, he noted. 

               "There are different levels of accreditation," he said.  "We could have full accreditation for the next 10 years, or we could be put on probation" while the school works to address evaluators' concerns, he said. 

               Ten years ago Derby High was put on probation after the accreditation process because of "limitations of staff" and deficiencies in its media center, DiCenso said. 

               "We had to work our way out of that," he noted, adding that administrators addressed the issue by hiring more staff and generally "working to improve weaknesses." 

               Felicia Hunter, Valley bureau chief, can be reached at 736-5441. (CT-Post)