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Courant: New Magnet School To Focus On Marine Science

Friday May 9, 2008

New Magnet School To Focus On Marine Science
by Lynn Doan
Courant Staff Writer
May 9, 2008
©The Hartford Courant

Goodwin College is set to build an $80 million magnet high school with a strong focus on marine science on the banks of the Connecticut River.

Just before midnight Wednesday, on the final day of their session, legislators approved $76 million in bonding to build the tentatively named Connecticut River Academy for Earth and Space Science on Goodwin College’s riverfront campus. The funding is part of the settlement offer in the Sheff v. O’Neill case that is expected to cost taxpayers more than $600 million over the next five years. The settlement was adopted by the legislature when it adjourned.

The adopted legislation allows for an agreement between the private, nonprofit college, which would own the academy, and the Hartford-based Capitol Region Education Council, which would be contracted to operate it. The college is hoping to open the academy for classes in the 2009-10 school year as the school is being constructed, Goodwin College President Mark Scheinberg said Thursday.

“The high school is going to have its own docks. … Students are going to be studying river and wave action right on the river,” Scheinberg said. “If you go to the high school, it’s going to be just breathtaking.”

The college will be responsible for 5 percent, or $4 million, of the cost of building the school, which is expected to serve students living in Hartford, East Hartford and other municipalities in the Hartford area. College officials said they are hoping that Two Rivers Magnet Middle School, about a quarter-mile away, will feed into the new academy.

Students at the academy will be required to attend classes and then participate in community service and sports until around 5 p.m. every school day, Scheinberg said. Advanced students will be allowed to take courses at the college and will have the ability to complete up to two years of college by the time they graduate, he said.

“It’s terribly exciting for us,” he said. “I couldn’t be more ecstatic about what this will do for our local community.”

As CREC plans operations for Goodwin College’s academy, it is also working on the opening of a public safety academy for emergency responders and a medical academy with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Bruce Douglas, the council’s executive director, predicted that the East Hartford academy would be “a very unique magnet school” focused on marine science, aerospace and engineering.

“The school is really going to be focused on three significant, high-tech professions that are going to be prominent in the 21st century,” he said, “and we will compete according to world standards.”

East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey said residents are getting “the best of both worlds.”

“We wind up with a building in our community and a school that will be part of the educational opportunities in town,” she said. “Isn’t it exciting?”

Contact Lynn Doan at ldoan@courant.com.