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Magnet School Heads To South End

Former Dwight Elementary Getting $1.8m Renovation

Vanessa de la Torre

July 30, 2013

Betances STEM Magnet School will be relocated to the city's South End after the State Bond Commission approved $1.8 million to renovate the former Dwight Elementary School building this summer.

The commission approved the funds last week as part of $13.86 million in start-up and expansion grants for 12 interdistrict magnet programs created under the Sheff vs. O'Neill desegregation agreement. Eleven of those programs are operated by the Capitol Region Education Council.

Renovations to the aging Dwight building on Wethersfield Avenue are expected to be finished in time for the 2013-14 academic year, school officials said Monday. The first day of school is Aug. 27.

Schools spokesman David Medina said Betances STEM students will take classes on the first and second floors of Dwight "for the foreseeable future." About 180 to 200 students in grades 4 and 5 are projected to enroll for the coming school year.

The plan is for Betances STEM to eventually expand from fourth to eighth grade, possibly enrolling up to 500 students in the future, administrators have said. The maximum capacity at Dwight is 420 students.

Hartford school officials originally sought to move the science, technology, engineering and math-focused magnet program from its temporary location on Charter Oak Avenue to leased space downtown, near the Connecticut Science Center.

But after the city's zoning board of appeals recently denied the district's request for a variance to allow a school, Medina said, "the next step was to do this."

After the downtown plans fell through, Betances STEM staff believed the school would share space at the newly-renovated former Quirk Middle building that will house Global Communications Academy. As of Monday afternoon, Betances STEM's website still read, "We are excited to announce that we will be located at 85 Edwards Street in Hartford for the 2013-2014 school year!"

Instead, magnet school staffers are now preparing to move into the South End building that was constructed in 1883. According to the district, Dwight was last renovated in 1986.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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