STAMFORD, Conn. -- A shuttered technical high school will become an important part of Stamford and the state’s economic future, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at J.M. Wright Technical High School.
“This is a downpayment on a very different future,” said Malloy, calling the renovation school's part of the state’s strategy to create a stronger economy.
The $90 million project at Wright is expected to be completed in May. A total of 1,550 square feet of new space will be added, and the school's existing 199,135 square feet of space will be renovated.
A state-run technical school, Wright Tech shut its doors in July 2009 as plunging enrollment, low test scores and the state’s dire financial situation during the recession hammered the school.
The state considered selling the school's site at 120 Bridget St. to raise money to close its budget gap before deciding to spend tens of millions of dollars to renovate the school. It is located beside Scalzi Park and Cubeta Stadium just north of downtown.
Malloy criticized the decision to school's closure, which occurred near the end of his tenure as mayor of Stamford.
“The reality is that this school should never have closed, never should have been been allowed to deteriorate to the extent it did and this project should not have languished waiting for a new governor,” he said at the groundbreaking.
The school is one of 18 in the state’s technical high school system. Nivea L. Torres, interim superintendent of the state’s technical school system, said the incoming 144-member freshmen class will face a challenging school year when it arrives next fall.
“The curriculum will have a rigorous STEM focus designed around science technology, engineering and mathematics that will engage students in rich STEM learning. Set high expectations for their participation and performance and prepare them for the competitive and ever changing global labor market,” she said.
“This school will be an incredible asset for Stamford and we are committed to ensuring that it is a success and a flagship for the district,” Torres added.
Wright Tech serves students from Stamford, Norwalk, Easton, Fairfield, Weston, Wilton, Westport, New Canaan, Greenwich and Bridgeport.
Robert Trefry, chairman of the Connecticut Technical High School System board, said the system has high academic standards and sends about half of its graduates to post-secondary education.
“The other thing that most of you don’t know is that although we are struggling statewide in the graduation rates that the technical high schools in the state of Connecticut have a 95 percent graduation rate,” he said. “The student comes here and applies himself they are going to graduate. They are going to have a diploma and they are going to have a career laid out that they can go into and be ready for college if that is their choice.”
About 80 people attended the event held outside the building even as work continued inside.
Jack Condlin, president of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce and a member of an ad hoc committee that worked to reopen the school, said he wants to raise the public's perception of the school.
“Our goal is that Wright Tech will become the flagship for technical high schools in the State of Connecticut,” he said.
Wright Technical High School is scheduled to
reopen in fall 2014. For more information, contact
Barbara Mazzonna at Barbara.Mazzonna@ct.gov
The initial program offerings will be automotive, culinary arts and science, E-Carpentry, E-Electrical, E-Plumbing & Heating, Facilities Management, Health Technology and Tourism/Hotel/ Hospitality. Visit the school's website for more information and for an application.