Forced out of Long Wharf by leaky roofs, Hyde students will now have to travel seven miles up the highway, past prim suburban lawns, to attend their New Haven public high school.
The 220-student magnet high school in the New Haven public school system, formally known as Hyde School of Health Sciences and Sports Medicine, had to move this summer unexpectedly due to roof problems at its previous home, Gateway Community College’s abandoned Long Wharf campus.
Now Hyde is settling into a new home at 88 Bassett—not the Bassett Street students know in Newhallville, but Bassett Road in North Haven, site of Gateway’s North Haven campus. Gateway partially vacated the North Haven campus when it moved to a new building in downtown New Haven last fall. The college still runs an automotive program in the North Haven basement.
The new Hyde campus is a 45-minute ride by city bus from downtown New Haven. With a large, grassy lawn on a quiet suburban street, it feels a world away.
Hyde’s new principal, Zakia Parrish, pronounced the space “brighter and nicer” than Hyde’s spot on Long Wharf. “The space is beautiful out front,” she said of the sprawling lawn.
“The staff are excited about the brightness, the feel, the energy of being in a new space,” Parrish said.
Parrish didn’t work at the school last year; she took over on July 1 from retiring principal John Russell. Parrish said the building has many amenities conducive to Hyde’s magnet theme of health science and sports medicine, as well as ample computer labs, an auditorium and a library.
The main drawback, she said, “is being so far from New Haven.”
Parrish (pictured) said the students, who hail from New Haven and surrounding suburbs, will all be able to take school buses to and from the new site in the morning and afternoon. The challenge will be helping kids and parents get to and from the school at other times.
If a kid misses the bus in the morning, for example, the school needs to “make sure they’re able to navigate taking the city bus,” Parrish noted. The C bus on CT Transit serves the campus. The route is circuitous: It meanders up Quinnipiac Avenue, crosses under I-91 to hit the Universal Drive shopping centers in North Haven, then wends its way towards Route 5. The whole trip takes about an hour.
News of the move to North Haven came fairly late in the summer. Parents were notified by letter and phone call on Friday, July 26, according to Parrish. While there had been rumors about the move, it wasn’t official until the state Board of Regents approved the space-sharing agreement at a special board meeting on July 20.
The Board of Regents voted unanimously to let Hyde use the North Haven Gateway space without paying rent, provided that New Haven public schools pay for their own utilities and cleaning services. The building, which was a middle school before Gateway took it over, spans 150,000 square feet. The board deemed it in the state’s interest to let Hyde move in because the state had been paying the full cost of upkeep for a mostly vacant building. Under the new arrangement, the state and New Haven roughly split the operating costs.
A tour of the building revealed that many classroom supplies (such as this skeleton) remained to be unpacked. Movers from William B. Meyer, Inc. spent most of the last week schlepping boxes of supplies from Long Wharf to New Haven, Parrish said.
Parrish said the new space has amenities that suit Hyde’s health science and sports medicine theme, including beds for physical therapy classes, ample space for the school’s weight room, and already-equipped science labs.
There’s a cafeteria on the first floor, an auditorium, and three computer labs. The building also has lockers in the hallways left over from the building’s middle-school days.
The campus has no gym or athletic fields. The campus abuts several fields owned by the town of North Haven; Parrish said Hyde is in negotiations about potentially using them.
“This does not have all of the things they need, and all of the things that they want,” said Will Clark, chief operating officer for New Haven schools of Hyde’s new home. But he said it’s a “good building” with an auditorium, lab space and amenities that “will fit the theme of that school well.”
Hyde students are used to having no fields of their own, Clark noted. Before they moved to Long Wharf last fall, they were in a Hamden swing space that also did not have fields. Hyde athletic teams play only “away” games.
Clark said it’s not certain how long Hyde will stay in the space. The agreement reached with the state is for one year.
“The plan was to be at Long Wharf until such time as we found a permanent location,” Clark said. “It’s great that [Gateway has] continued to collaborate with us, given the situation at Long Wharf. We’re going to have to keep looking and considering a more permanent solution.”
Clark said the distance from New Haven is a drawback. But North Haven is just one town north of Hamden, where Hyde was before, Clark noted. “We have thousands of kids who come to our schools from points further,” he said, referring to the suburban students bused into New Haven magnet schools.
Hyde mom Kim Riley, whose son will soon begin his senior year at Hyde, said she wishes parents had had time to weigh in on the move: “I do believe that there should have been more information before the school year ended about the move, where we were going, and maybe we would have some input like we did the year before.”
She said she hopes Hyde finds a stable home for students. After moving twice in two years, Riley said, “one of the things they need is a place to call their own.”
“I’m thinking positive with the new location, although it is far,” she said.