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Will Fairchild-Wheeler Dollars Strengthen Trumbull Schools?

Can Trumbull's loss on the Fairchild-Wheeler magnet school jump start a STEM curriculum?

Today's Connecticut Post shows readers an interesting number about the soon to open Fairchild-Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet School - the state is giving each suburban district $7,085 for every student attending the school.

Trumbull was to have been the school's host, for which we were to have received 100 seats in addition to the 50 each of the other six participating suburban districts was granted.  

Negotiations broke down, we lost the host seats, the school's property was transferred to Bridgeport. In exchange, Trumbull received land needed to complete Rails to Trails and a few acres of an oil polluted garage area. 

On a purely mathematical basis Trumbull has lost approximately $20,000 per student - the $7,085 foregone plus our almost $13,000 cost per pupil - $2 million for the upcoming year, and probably $20 million over ten years.

As a policy issue, it should be noted that only 44 students have applied to the school, so one can reasonably ask whether our students would have filled all 150 seats our First Selectman had initially negotiated for us - and, thus, whether we would have gained the full financial benefits over the near term.

Yet the $311,740 of state funding we will receive could help enhance our schools' science programs.  If the money simply goes into the town's General Fund it becomes just another source of funding for next year's budget, and an opportunity is lost. But if the funds are treated as a set aside or a supplement, they could allow our schools to replace even more of its aged computers, update science lab equipment, or even enhance courses that may eventually form a part of a Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) program.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

jg February 27, 2013 at 04:42 PM
44 applicants actually seems like a pretty good number. Last I heard the school was initially going to open for grades 9 and 10 only. One would expect most of the 44 to be potential freshmen because they wouldn't have to face a transfer from one high school to another. Even if evenly divided (anyone know the actual split?) it indicates significantly more demand than the number of seats allocated per year to Trumbull under the final settlement.
Roy Fuchs February 27, 2013 at 05:51 PM
I agree. My comment went to the full 150 seats. If we still the, and if we assume that half that total would be appropriate for this year, another 25 percent next, and the remainder in 2015, we would need to recruit about another 30 students. And I agree with Superintendent Iassogna's statement that this is a new venture, and as more students and families learn about it, we will fill our quota.

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