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Health Magnet School in City?

The City is looking at the possibility of making the present “Health Academy” a Connecticut Education Regional Council (CREC) Inter District Magnet School. CREC currently operates a Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy in Windsor. It is a temporary location and CREC is looking for a permanent location to build or renovate.

“Our Mayor and Legislative Leaders have asked CREC to consider coming to New Britain,” said Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, board of education president. “The Executive Committee of the New Britain High School Health Professions Academy asked if these two programs should be combined or linked.”

Superintendent of Schools Doris Kurtz said it is just in the speculative stage.

“I asked our state delegation to pursue carving out a temporary grant supplement for New Britain so that if we do take this magnet, at least for the first three years the state offsets the tuition costs by a targeted grant to the district for that,” said Saavedra, at a Monday night school board meeting. “Then, we assume full responsibility of the costs as we do for all other magnets that our kids attend.”

When CREC operates a magnet, they have full operational control and decision making authority. The New Britain school system would be charged tuition for each student who attends – as it does now with students attending any CREC magnet. New Britain currently has 30 students attending the CREC medical magnet in its temporary location. New Britain is one of the only urban areas without a magnet school. Other communities such as Hartford, Bridgeport and Waterbury operate their own magnets – which are under Board control.

Costs are expected to be around $1 million for students from the City to attend.

Saavedra said Mayor Timothy Stewart took CREC officials to three spots around the city as possible locations for the school on Monday.

“I’m concerned about $1 million a year in tuition,” said Paul Carver. “I understand it would benefit some of the kids to have this partnership, but how many would benefit and how many would be shut out?”

Carver added that, the school board just cut $8 million out of its budget and may need to cut $5 million more.

“If we are hit with another million dollars, that is 17 teachers,” he said. “For some of us, quite frankly, the issue is the money.”

Board member Anthony Kane was also concerned about the number of New Britain students that would be allowed to go to the health academy.

“We have 54 students in the academy right now and that will obviously grow in the next few years maybe to 150,” said Kane. “We are limiting ourselves to about 25 students per grade level. It’s a concern.”

Jason Howey, Chairman of the New Britain Health Professions Academy Executive Committee, said one of the benefits to the City would be having a $60 million state of the art building that basically looks like an operating room and the cooperation of the two hospitals (Hospital of Central Connecticut and Hospital for Special Care).

“It would be a positive for the image and profile of New Britain,” added Howey.

Saavedra added that another positive for the city, “would be a construction project within the city potentially helping to revitalize a neighborhood or spur additional business.”

Representatives for CREC are expected to come and speak with board of education officials in the near future.