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On Trumbull's School Budget, the Magnet School and More

The Board of Education held two budget hearings last week. The second hearing took place Dec. 6.

Trumbull parents used the second of three education budget workshops to ask for more guidance counselors for Trumbull High School and how to enter the Fairchild Memorial Magnet School, among other discussions.

Daniels Farm School Teacher Beth McGrath spoke first, telling the Board of Education that new school technology is needed for standardized tests that will be given on computers. The current computers "either freeze or they shut down," she said.

She also called for Wifi and for computer specialists for schools.

Schools Supt. Ralph Iassogna said the technology plan will be addressing those issues.

"We don't have a choice not to upgrade," said District Technology Director Jeff Hackett. The district needs 290 middle school and elementary school lab computers. The plan also calls for printers, pockets of Wifi and technology to post documents for review.

The plan's cost is estimated at $643,200.

Parent Cindy Katske called for more guidance counselors for Trumbull High School, noting that Trumbull has more high school students than Fairfield (between two high schools). But counselors in Fairfield (which is considered a similar district) have smaller caseloads, she added.

Parent Cindy Penkoff asked for a permanent elevator repair after her son, who needs help walking, was forced to use stairs several times at Trumbull High this year because the elevator broke down.

School officials said the problems began when construction crews renovating the high school used the elevator to move heavy equipment. The decades-old elevator is the original school elevator that has been refurbished. It has since been repaired.

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Her son cannot be late for classes because he takes three Advanced Placement courses and attends the Agriscience Center, she said.

She also called THS counselors' workloads "unacceptable," and supported the new technology plan, adding that some students have better technology than the school.

The Magnet School

Amy Arnone asked Iassogna to notify parents regarding the status of the Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus, dedicated to science for ninth- to 12th-graders.

The school is scheduled to open in September 2013 to students from Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Milford, Monroe, Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull. The application deadline is January 30, 2013, and the form is here. Trumbull could have as many as 50 seats. Seventy percent will come from Bridgeport.

The campus will include three schools: Information Technology and Software Engineering; Zoological Science, Research and Biotechnology; Physical Sciences, Engineering and Aerospace/Hydrospace.

According to the Website "Only in Bridgeport," student enrollment will be by application.

“Final selection will be determined by lottery and the size of student population of the sending town. Applications will be posted and available online at www.bridgeportedu.net.  Applications will also be available at each respective board of education office,” the site states.

Iassogna directed inquiries to the website, because Trumbull schools have not been informed about the school's application process, he said.

A Little TLC

Finally, Trumbull Loves Children Director Kenneth McCabe was allowed to proceed with building a two-story, 8,000-square-foot facility behind Daniels Farm School to add services for six-week-olds to 2-year-olds.

TLC only takes Trumbull residents, but offers its services to town and school employees. It also runs camps and afterschool programs for older children. 

McCabe said he must also seek approval from state and local health districts.

Both First Selectman Tim Herbst and Town Attorney Robert Nicola have also approved the proposal, Iassogna said.

Board of Education member Loretta Chory opposed it.

"I oppose expanding government support of a new non-profit daycare which has the potential to affect "for profit" daycares already established and operating in Trumbull and surrounding communities... in other words, hurting small businesses," she said.

Aaron Leo December 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Sorry Loretta, thanks for the clarification. Putting it in the story now.
Carol Hudak December 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Bravo, Loretta.
Jim Flynn December 12, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Once more Ms. Penkoff shows her true stripes. She speaks in favor of spending government funds when it benefits a member of the Penkoff family. Otherwise, she can regularly be heard trumpeting her opposition to almost all increased government spending. Another hypocritical Trumbull "Conservative".
Aaron Leo December 12, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Jim, other students use the elevator too. It's an ADA requirement to have one. I'm sorry I forgot to include that in the story.
Jim Flynn December 12, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Aaron Doesn't change my statement. Ms. Penkoff has a long history of opposing spending increases. She has been vocal in opposing other expenses that Federal and state mandates impose on Trumbull. This is an expense forced on Trumbull by a federal mandate. However, this one benefits a memeber of the Penkoff family. Surprise, she's in favor of this expense

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