A dollar can’t buy you much these days, but it’s now the amount of the yearly lease that will allow the New Haven Board of Education to operate a magnet school on Southern Connecticut State University’s campus.

With the symbolic lease approved by the New Haven Board of Alders on Jan. 16, the current Strong-21st Century Communications Magnet School will become a laboratory school situated on Southern Connecticut State University’s campus at 69 Farnham Ave. The vote to approve the lease is the most recent step forward in a long process by the Board of Education and Southern Connecticut State University to create a magnet school linked to the university’s school of education.

“Several years ago, there was a commitment within the New Haven public school system to establish one of the schools to become a magnet,” said Stephen Hegedus, the dean of Southern Connecticut State University’s School of Education. “There was a commitment to that partnership. We prepare teachers, we prepare a lot of educators with a focus on urban education to partner [with the school].”

When the plan to form this partnership was originally proposed in 2015, the Board of Alders’ Finance Committee voted against funding the school. Hegedus said that, to his knowledge, there had never been opposition to the academic partnership or the general concept of the proposal. Instead, he said, the only roadblock was funding.

The following year, in 2016, the committee switched its position, approving the project with a 6–5 vote. The state government will provide $34.3 million to support the plan, and the city will contribute another $10.7 million.

The new school will continue to serve its predecessor’s population. When it opens, students currently at the Strong School will move over to the new facility. Alders and Hegedus expressed hope that the school will serve both students and, in time, the city.

“The Strong School will be a model for the entire nation by offering an innovative and practical solution to increase our ever dwindling supply of our country and city’s most valuable asset — teachers,” Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19 said. “Through partnering with the [Southern Connecticut State University] education school, [the Strong School] will ensure that a new generation of highly trained teachers will carry our city forward.”

The opportunity for the new school arose because the Strong School’s current facilities were in need of rebuilding. The estimated cost of the rebuild was quoted at around $9 million, making the new facility on Farnham Ave., on second glance, both more feasible and more appealing.

Southern Connecticut State University’s campus is located in Ward 30, with substantial housing linked to the university in Ward 29. Ward 29 Alder Brian Wingate explained that, while he anticipates some minor difficulties will inevitably arise with the change, such as traffic changes in his ward, he is overwhelmingly pleased at the prospect of the new school.

Wingate said he expects the new school to help create the city’s “next generation of leaders.”

“It may sound cliche, but that’s what school is all about: building up leaders who will come back and service your town,” he said. “I hope that we get a great group of kids, of leaders, that want to serve New Haven in the future, that want to stay here, to stay home.”

Hegedus echoed that sentiment, emphasizing the significance of the new school’s location on Southern Connecticut State University’s physical campus.

For the students it will serve — many of whom are expected to become first-generation college students — the exposure to a university setting and atmosphere will enhance their educational experience, Hegedus said.

“We pulled together a memorandum, an agreement, that outlines the expectations for each of the two parties involved — that has been a collective effort — while also acknowledging that, because of the climate we are in, because of the challenges of urban [education], we are not outlining specific numbers,” Hegedus said.

The memorandum outlining the partnership is not currently available to the public, but Hegedus suggested it will be published when finalized.

Southern Connecticut State University was founded as a teacher’s college in 1893.

Angela Xiao | angela.xiao@yale.edu