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Finizio: Turn New London High School into a Sports Magnet School

At the Board of Education meeting Thursday night, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio proposed turning New London High School into a "scholar-athlete and sports medicine magnet school" similar to the Sports and Medical Science Academy in Hartford.

New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio on Thursday proposed turning New London High School into a magnet school for sports and sports sciences in the mold of Hartford's Sports and Medical Sciences Academy as part of a plan to transform the public school system into an all-magnet district.

Finizio, who spoke at Thursday night's Board of Education meeting about his plan after circulating a memo on the subject (see attached PDF) earlier in the day, noted the challenges facing the New London Public Schools District in recent years, including the appointment of a state "special master" to oversee the city's schools and flat funding for five consecutive years. In the memo, he wrote, "It now falls to all of us to chart a new course forward."

Finizio's "new course forward" includes turning New London High into a scholar-athlete and sports medicine magnet school as part of a larger plan to make New London the state's first all-magnet district under legislation introduced by state Sen. Andrea Stillman in 2006 and passed by the state legislature.

The state-appointed special master overseeing the school system, Dr. Stephen Adamowski, announced at the meeting that there is a $3 million request to cover initial design work for the renovation of the high school that is scheduled to be approved by the state Bond Commission Friday.

"The original building is in dire need of renovation and improvement," Adamowski said. "There are a number of complaints that have been filed over the years to the Office of Civil Rights that are pending against the district relative to the issue of the school being inaccessible to the handicapped."

The 2006 Stillman bill also lowered New London's threshold of required out-of-district students to 15% and stipulated that the district would receive $3,000 per student if the all-magnet school system was "racially and ethnically integrated," according to Finizio's memo.

"This has the potential of bringing in $9 million in new revenue to the city," the mayor noted. "... This initiative would be able to compensate for years of flat-funding and help the school district and the City in immeasurable ways."

Currently, the city has two magnet schools — the Science & Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut and the . The Nathan Hale Magnet Elementary School for Visual and Performing Arts is slated to open next fall.

In the memo, Finizio compares New London's demographics to Hartford's, and notes the success of Hartford's Sports and Medical Science Academy in improving achievement rates.

The mayor also said his proposal would be consistent with the demonstrated interests of the community.

"A Sports and Science Medicine Academy would be in keeping with the interest among the student population that is currently at New London High School," Finizio wrote. "In addition, there is the possibility for widespread political support for investment of this initiative throughout our community.

"In the past, the community supported improving the athletic programs and facilities that are available. This academy would maximize the prior athletic facility investments that have already been made."

Jason Harris contributed reporting to this article.

boudica October 26, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Good idea! I like it.
Kellie Graham October 26, 2012 at 07:05 PM
This sounds like a great start. This area could also use a Performing Arts Magnet School. New London is so rich in the arts, it's a shame that the closest one we have been able to find is in Waterbury. Great way to think outside the box, Mr. Mayor.
Thomas Cornick October 26, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Have you hired a skilled tradesman anytime recently? While dancers and musicians and football players are fine, electricians, plumbers, hvac techs, automotive techs, industrial automation and the like might better fit our service economy and provide wages sufficient for a comfortable life. Is their a greater demand for sports medicine than there will be to provide skilled care to our ageing population ? I like the idea of an all magnet school district but I think we might want to look more closely at the skills we invest limited resources in.
Sue P. October 26, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Thomas I agree with you 100%. I have a daughter that is about to go into High School. I told her that she needs to learn a trade and then go to college if she wants to. The way I see it is when all the kids get out of college they will be working in office jobs making about $15 an hour but that kid that went to trade school for plumbing will be making $100 an hour. Your always going to need a plumber, electrician, car repair etc. etc Trades are were the money will be. By the way this week my daughter wants to be a mechanic, sounds good to me.
Thomas Cornick October 26, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Sue, The money may be nice but skilled trades provide a good pathway to self employment which provides a lifestyle more satisfying for many and the profits can be shared with your family instead of your CEO.
Sue P. October 26, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Also agree, that's why I told my daughter that if she chooses a trade she must also take business classes.
Laurie Gorham October 28, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I also agree with Tom %100. It's long been a complaint of mine that the school has had to cut all it's shop programs and there is only one automotive class left. Although it is important to push college aspirations (which the school does a lot of), there is no equal push for trades education beyond high school. However, on the plus side, we do have an excellent CNA training program. There might be an EMT program too, but I'm not sure.
Thomas Cornick October 28, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Not all higher education is college, yet in the field you will find tradesmen who are skilled in the sciences and mathematics on a practical level. I also believe public education is skewed towards sending it's graduates on to college and I also know that the revenue stream produced by wave after wave of freshmen dropping out is significant. It is quite the industry. With a total examination of how we do things here in New London we have an opportunity to bring things into balance or we can just go through the motions and teach tightly scripted lesson plans in order to score well on mastery tests, an approach that fails students, denies teachers the autonomy to teach the students in front of them, and drives bright minds both faculty and student from the classroom.

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