NEW HAVEN ANNOUNCES REVISED COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION
(11/24/2008) NEW HAVEN- New Haven’s Citywide School Construction Program announced updates to its Comprehensive Facilities Plan today demonstrating the impact of the challenging economy on the City’s capital projects. Today’s announcement confirmed the closing of the Vincent Mauro Magnet School and the Dwight School as well as changes to the construction schedule for other pending projects.
Given the conditions of the State’s and City’s economy and after taking a closer look at the projects, their enrollments and their challenges, the City made the decision to remove the Vincent Mauro and Dwight Schools from the School Construction Program. The City found that rather than maintain enrollments in these schools, it would be a sound financial and instructional decision to merge the populations of these schools with those of neighboring new magnet schools. Dwight students began the school year at the newly renovated Troup School this Fall while students from Vincent Mauro will join their neighbors at Sheridan Magnet School when their new building opens in the fall of 2009.
“These are unfortunate signs of the times,” said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. “In this challenging economic climate we are forced to make very difficult decisions and implement hard cost cutting measures. Our updated comprehensive plan puts us on the right track to renovate or build new schools on a schedule that works for our students and staff. However, the financial future of the State is still unstable. There’s no telling where we’ll be six months from now and there’s no way to know what additional cuts the State will have to make our how that will impact us and our programs. While we hope to continue our plans to improve additional school facilities, we’ll need to be flexible to what resources the State and the City can provide to support these plans.”
The Vincent Mauro school building will likely be considered for swing space to house students from another school under construction after Mauro students move into the newly renovated and expanded Sheridan school.
Due to the impact of the national economic crisis, some School Construction projects will be filed with the State for approval in 2009 rather than their previously scheduled 2008 dates. These projects include: New Haven Academy Magnet High School, High School in the Community Magnet High School, Helene Grant Head Start, Early Learning Center at the former Martin Luther King School and the Microsociety Pre-K-8 Magnet School.
Debt service for the City, for the most part tied to the $1.5 billion School Construction Program, was expected to reach its peak in 2009. Due to a freeze in municipal bond markets this year and the continuously increasing cost of borrowing funds, debt service will now reach its peak in 2013. With the expectation that the market will have improved and that there is increased availability of affordable municipal bonds in the next several years, the City’s debt will improve significantly. Over the next five years, future borrowing compares favorably as debt being retired is greater than new debt being acquired by the City.
The Citywide School Construction Program was launched by Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. in 1995 to rebuild every school in the City of New Haven, to enhance the academic achievements of its students and to minimize the expense to City taxpayers. The program was based on a comprehensive facilities plan that was prepared from April 1996 through May 1998. That plan was revised extensively in 2000 and updated in 2003, 2005 and 2007. This year’s updates represent a covering schools and debt service moving forward, considering the current economic climate. There will be another revision in 2009.
New Haven operates the largest school construction program in the State, and the largest per capita in the country. The program has evolved into a national model for its massive scope, innovative financing and high degree of community involvement. To date, 27 projects have been completed, six are under construction, three are in the design phase and one is in the planning phase.
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