Magnet School In Windsor Still In 'Temporary' Location
postscript: Magnet School
By JODIE MOZDZER | The Hartford Courant
December 15, 2008
Florence Johnson never expected her daughter to graduate from "that warehouse," the commercial building where Pathways to Technology magnet high school has been temporarily housed since 2004.
Located at 184 Windsor Ave. just over the Windsor line from Hartford, the Pathways to Technology building is a snug fit for the 390 students who now fill its rooms.
But now, more than four years later, Johnson is approaching the graduation of her second child at the school.
"It's really frustrating for those of us who have been here for a long time," said Johnson, the PTO president. "It seems like people forget there are kids in this building."
More than five years after an original search started for a proper site for the school, it still doesn't have a permanent home. But city and school officials said they are considering three sites in the area. Johnson says parents remain "suspiciously optimistic."
Meanwhile, the city is paying $390,000 a year in base rent, with its lease expiring in August 2009, according to city spokeswoman Sarah Barr. The city also shares utility costs with the building's other tenant, the State Board of Education and Services for the Blind, which pays $403,399 a year in rent. The landlord is Mark Wertheim of West Hartford.
"I'm leery of anything they say to me," Johnson said recently. "And I say I'll believe it when a building goes up, not when a shovel goes in the ground, because we've seen that happen before."
Johnson was referring to January 2007, when the city broke ground on a site at Broad Street and Farmington Avenue. The city had approved the site, but the state had not yet given approval.
The land was deeded to the city from the state with restrictions that it be used for a park, public safety complex or for economic development. The city believed a school that was training students for the business world would be considered economic development. The state disagreed.
Now city officials said they are considering three sites in the area: the Weaver High School campus in the Blue Hills section of Hartford; a parcel of land at the MassMutual property in Asylum Hill; or land on the campus of Goodwin College in East Hartford.
Over the summer, The Hartford said it would donate a piece of land at the MassMutual site it purchased to the city for the school. A spokesperson for The Hartford said the offer still stands and that the city is reviewing the viability of placing the magnet school on the site.
Todd Andrews, the director for institutional advancement for Goodwin College, said it would be "premature" for him to make any public comments on the discussions the college has had with the city and state about Pathways to Technology.
Andrews said that in discussing Goodwin's plans for its own magnet school, the Connecticut River Academy for Earth and Space Science magnet high school, it has sought out other programs in the region to make sure it doesn't duplicate efforts.
"Anything that we've talked about with Pathways is preliminary," Andrews said. "There's nothing definitive there yet."
Regardless of which site the city picks, the state department of education and the state legislature must then approve the location because the state funds 95 percent of the magnet-school building projects.
Thomas Murphy, spokesman for the state department of education, said no official proposals have been presented to the department since the site on Broad and Farmington was scrapped.
•Staff Writer Jon Lender contributed to this report.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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