I wanted to share with my readers a commentary piece written by Bridgeport Public Facilities Director (and school Facilities Director) Jorge Garcia.
Originally published by the Connecticut Post, Garcia goes over the reasons why new school projects help the community, by not only providing students with new opportunities, but also by creating jobs for Bridgeport residents.
It makes one wonder why so much of the Bridgeport Board of Education’s energy is directed at halting the construction of a new Harding High School:
Thirteen thousand students in the Park City will attend new or renovated schools in the near future as the City continues working to provide kids with the tools to one day compete for 21st-century jobs.
In every city neighborhood, Mayor Bill Finch is building new schools and renovating existing ones.
By the time the initiative is completed, the city and state will have invested $725 million in school construction for our children. That’s what this is about.
We see this as much more than an investment in brick and mortar. This is an investment in our future that our families and children deserve.
Take a look at our Aquaculture regional high school. It is equipped with a flybridge simulator that gives our students the skills to navigate a ship into any port in the world. Students have access and hands-on experience navigating an underwater rover, the same technology used during the unprecedented environmental cleanup effort following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
At the Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet School, we are providing students with the latest technology and tools to prepare them for jobs in engineering, the bio-technology field and the information technology field. At the Bridgeport Military Academy, our students interested in careers as first responders or in the military work hand-in-hand with police officers, firefighters, medical professionals and members of our military to prepare them to serve our communities and country.
In the end, our goal is to provide children with facilities and resources that create a dynamic, safe and healthy learning environment.
We are working toward completing every project, whether building a new school or renovating an existing one, at the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
LEED stands for green building leadership. LEED is transforming the way we think about how buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained and operated across the globe. This investment is about our children.
It also is about creating jobs in Bridgeport.
Our aggressive school construction program is providing a boost to our local economy by creating jobs and giving small business an opportunity to grow and thrive.
Created in 2008, one of Mayor Finch’s first initiatives after being elected, the Small and Minority Business Resource Office (SMBRO) provides training and connections for entrepreneurs to create businesses and compete for city contracts, such as school construction projects. Since that time, the city has hired its first African-American construction manager for a school project and seen four minority owned businesses create joint ventures with established firms.
Recently, through the efforts of SMBRO, more than $50 million has been awarded to small, minority and women-owned businesses on our four most recent school construction projects. On these four construction projects – Black Rock Elementary School, Fairchild Wheeler Magnet High School, Roosevelt Elementary School and Longfellow Elementary School – 100 out of 101 subcontracting opportunities were awarded to minority or women-owned businesses.
This means, we have helped 100 small businesses get an opportunity to succeed, grow and create jobs for Bridgeport residents.
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