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Magnet School Opens in New Britain

The new school year got started with new digs for students at the CREC (Capitol Region Education Council) Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy, which opened a state-of the-art facility in New Britain at 600 Slater Road this past Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Located temporarily in a 50,000 sq. ft. building in Windsor since its founding in 2010-11, the medical professions and teaching-themed magnet school now has a 145,000 square foot, $64,486,125 building that houses 740 students in grades 6-12 from around the region and 40 students in an on-site preschool. The project, which broke ground in September 2012, took about two years to complete.

“We are thrilled to be opening our new home in the City of New Britain,” said Andrew Skarzynski, principal of the CREC Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy.

“Historically, New Britain has been a center of innovation and we are happy to be part of this tradition,” added Skarzynski. “Our new facility will allow us to expand and deepen our programming, benefiting our students and families. We are extremely grateful to the City of New Britain for its assistance in our development.”

Julia M. Winer, Assistant Director of Communications and Coordinator of Legislative Affairs for CREC—which operates 19 magnet schools in the Greater Hartford area—pointed out that, “Students that are interested in going into careers in medicine, human services, or teaching would be a good fit for the school.”

The preschool—just like the grade 6-12 main school—is open to all students in Connecticut through an annual lottery, which is run each year in the spring for the following school year, according to Winer.

“The preschool is a fully functional preschool, with certified teaching staff,” said Winer. “In addition, it serves as a learning laboratory for the students in the main school [the middle school/high school]. They may co-teach, observe, write lessons, etc. depending on which course and track of study they are in.”

The medical professions aspect of the school “offers career shadowing and coaching from professionals in healthcare facilities,” according to the CREC schools website, and students will be working in “specialized laboratories” that “will be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment for an interactive and student-centered education experience.”

The new school, like other CREC schools, will have students from all over the area, according to Winer. “Typically students reside in anywhere from 30 to 40 towns surrounding the school’s location,” she said.

The magnet school initially opened for the 2010-11 school year in a temporary facility on Bloomfield Avenue in Windsor—before a permanent home had been identified.

“All of our schools are opening initially in temporary facilities,” explained Winer. “When the school began in the 2010-11 school year, we did not know that the permanent facility would be in New Britain. That was determined after land was identified, we had conversations with the town, and all of the zoning processes were followed, and the land purchase was completed.”

CREC purchased the magnet school site from the City of New Britain for $1.73 million in February 2012 (the site was vacant prior to CREC’s purchase but had previously housed a low-income housing project, according to Brian Greenleaf, Project Controls, CREC Construction Services).

The state has shouldered the bulk of the $64,486,125 construction costs for the magnet school project. “The state pays 95 percent of that cost and CREC pays 5 percent of the cost,” explained Winer. “The City of New Britain does not pay a portion of the construction cost, because CREC is the school district – the school is just located in New Britain,” added Winer.