BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Mayor Bill Finch — sporting sunglasses on a late summer Friday — joined local dignitaries for a ground-breaking ceremony for a new $106 million high school to replace the aging 90-year-old Harding High in Bridgeport.
Do you support naming the new high school in Bridgeport after President Barack Obama?
No, I want to keep the Harding tradition alive
No, I think it's too soon for an Obama High School
The announcement came with many not-so-subtle references that Finch is very much in support of naming the new high school after President Barack Obama.
Finch said he would second a suggestion from a bishop, who spoke early in the ceremony, to name the school for Obama.
"This school, for the kids that go here, could have no more powerful name than the name of Barack Obama High School," Finch said. "Let me just simply say that in my lifetime no president has ever helped my city as much as Barack Obama has."
The new 210,000-square-foot building, scheduled to open its doors in 2018, will house 1,150 students. The site includes a football field, baseball field, and eight-lane running track.
It will also have many unique features, including a mock court, a financial trading room, a culinary kitchen and a surgical lab.
The state is picking up 78 percent of the cost of the new school, according to the mayor’s office.
Finch sees the school as more than simply an investment in education.
“It’s not just a school,” Finch said. “It’s an economic development investment.”
Nearly $730 million has been invested in current, completed and future school construction projects in Bridgeport. The mayor’s much-touted school construction program will have created more than 3,000 jobs upon its completion, according to his office.
Once the program is complete, more than half of Bridgeport kids will be attending new or renovated schools.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight,” Finch said. The project has been in the planning stages for years and had to be redesigned to accommodate more students.
General Electric has owned the site, which housed a manufacturing facility until 2007, since 1920. In 2010, GE began the process of deconstruction on the property, which was completed in 2012.
In 2013, the city and GE tentatively identified a portion of the company’s nearly 77-acre parcel that would be suitable for the new high school, according to the mayor’s office.
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