ESUMS breaks ground

Miriam Correia

After a long journey, ground has finally been broken for the Engineering and Science University Magnet School.

UNH President Steven Kaplan, Pryor, Architect Svigals, and ESUMS Senior Odia Kane breaking ground for the Engineering and Science University Magnet School (A New Haven Independent Photo)
UNH President Steven Kaplan, Pryor, Architect Svigals, and ESUMS Senior Odia Kane breaking ground for the Engineering and Science University Magnet School (A New Haven Independent Photo)

The school was dreamed up in 2005 and debuted in 2008 as a partnership effort between the University of New Haven, New Haven and West Haven. ESUMS has had temporary homes in New Haven and, recently, Hamden to accommodate the larger population but its final resting place, so to speak, will be right next to UNH.

“This is a wonderful example of what can take place when local municipalities, the state and higher education collaborate to, in this case, create a school that is the first of its kind in Connecticut,” said President Steve Kaplan.

Once completed, the new location will fill an important community need and greatly improve the area surrounding the University. ESUMS also will make its lab spaces available to the University during the evening, helping to address a critical need on campus.”

After scoping out and appraising various areas in West Haven and New Haven, the decision was made to build right on UNH’s campus. Ground was officially broken in September of this year and the school is set to open in September of 2016.

A couple of the other areas that were considered were UNH’s own South Campus Hall and an abandoned bowling alley north of Boston Post Rd. The site was the best decision because ESUMS students will have access to UNH’s campus and resources and it will not displace any of the offices as it would have if South Campus Hall was chosen.

With the growing population of students, the school did have issues with their temporary locations. There was a location on State Street in New Haven but there were plans to move to Ella Grasso Blvd until the permanent home was completed because of the growth of the school. However, parents got together and protested because of the drug addicts and sex offenders in that area, so plans were changed. Sixth through eighth grade students stayed at the State St. school and ninth through twelfth graders moved to a space on Leeder Hill Dr. in Hamden.

Right now, the school has 570 students but it will grow to 616 at the new location. As part of the arrangement, New Haven students will have 65 percent of the seats, West Haven will have 20 percent, and the remaining 15 percent will go to the surrounding Connecticut towns; also, ESUMS students will be able to take free courses at UNH for college credits.

The school’s seniors have been working with the architects, Svigals & Partners, on the design through their “Kids Build” program.

The teachers and administrators have been saying that it will be “a building that teaches,” according to press materials given to the New Haven Independent, because the students will get to see some of the engineering concepts that they see in the classroom being applied in real life.

Students were able to contribute to designing the layers of brick for the foundation, cantilevering problems, and will help with other issues, “We’ll have them [the students] back to walk the site with our civil engineer and the landscape designer,” said the lead architect Julia McFadden to the New Haven Independent.

The school will cost about $85 million, but 95 percent of that money will be reimbursed by the state, according to Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, who spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The school will be five stories and will have labs, which UNH students will have access to, computers, 3-D printers and other awesome features.