To the Editor:
[Editor's Note: attached YouTube video here.]
A little over a year ago, as I began to get more involved in local issues, I started hearing about a new magnet school coming to Trumbull.
Occasionally I would see an article in the CT Post or the Trumbull Times about negotiations with Bridgeport or the state. Last spring, I ran across a mean-spirited letter to the editor of Trumbull Patch by Town Councilman Chad Ciocci declaring “Proposed Magnet School ‘Bad’ for Trumbull.”
As I tried to find out more about this project, I discovered that Trumbull citizens were not being kept up to date by our officials.
I wanted to know why the school is being built, why in Trumbull? How was the seat allocation determined? What other districts were participating, and how were they chosen? What will the cost of construction be, how much will the state fund and what will it cost Trumbull? What will the annual tuition costs be, what will Trumbull taxpayers pay and what will the state pay?
How would Trumbull benefit from having this school built in our town? What educational and financial benefits would we have gained from the 150 seats we were to have had? How did we lose 100 seats?
And why did the town walk away from the nearly $20 million we were to have received?
While these questions went unanswered the local press seemed to focus on the tug-of-war between Trumbull and Bridgeport over what have to be secondary issues: emergency services, road upgrades and concerns over how this project would affect the area's residents.
Almost nowhere did I see any detailed information about what this school would look like, what the curriculum would be and what the possible benefits might be for Bridgeport, Trumbull and the surrounding communities.
With some research I discovered what a gem the Multi-Magnet school would be:
- $126 million, state-funded, state of the art Multi-Magnet high school to fulfill requirements of the Sheff v. O'Neill decision
- The largest school infrastructure project in Connecticut state history
- 21st century curriculum focusing on three areas:
- Information technology – in conjunction with Sacred heart University
- Zoological studies – with the Beardsley Zoo
- Physical science, math and aerospace – learning and internship programs with GE, Sikorsky and other similar companies
- 1500 Students Grades 9-12
- 70 percent from Bridgeport
- 30 percent split between Trumbull, Easton, Fairfield, Shelton, Stratford, Monroe and Milford
- LEED certified Green Building
- Powered by wind turbines and solar panels
- Green roof and green building materials
- Energy-efficient mechanical systems
- Completely landscaped using vegetation found on site
Though I do not live near the school, curiosity drove me to attend a recent citizen’s forum hosted by Republican Town Councilmen Chad Ciocci and Tony Scinto (see ). It was a poorly attended, but well run meeting that allowed the school's neighbors to air concerns about its construction and the impact it may have on their homes and on the community.
But I was stunned to realize that while there had been neighborhood opposition for years, none of those who attended the meeting had ever seen so much as a picture of the school. Nor did they have any idea of its characteristics or the unique curriculum it will offer.
After viewing architects' renderings and understanding the benefits it will provide Trumbull students, Trumbull schools and Trumbull taxpayers, most were very impressed – one mother of a 15-month old even looked forward to when her child could attend.
It became obvious that town officials and the traditional media had failed our citizens. The real story of the Fairchild-Wheeler Multi-Magnet High School remains to be told.
Likewise not told and not well understood by most of our residents is the story of how this $126 million gift from the state of Connecticut has been bungled by our town officials. I decided to employ a different medium to try to convey what I feel is the real story of the magnet school that could have been a crown jewel for Trumbull.