The Day – Norwich School Building Committee opts for four new elementary schools
Norwich – The School Building Committee on Tuesday evening approved a plan to build four new elementary schools to replace seven schools, three on the grounds of existing schools and one on city-owned land on the site of the old school in Norwich. Greeneville.
The committee voted 7-3 in a virtual meeting to ask the architectural firm Drummey Rosane Anderson Inc., or DRA, which has offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut, to provide a detailed report with projected costs for build new schools on the grounds of the Moriarty Environmental Sciences Magnet School, John B. Stanton School, and Uncas School and on the site of the former Greeneville School. Each 75,000 square foot school would house approximately 525 students from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Once the new schools are completed, the existing buildings would be demolished and new playgrounds and sports fields would be created in the spaces where the buildings were located.
The Teachers’ Memorial Global Studies Middle School would be renovated and retained, along with the newly renovated Kelly STEAM Magnet Middle School. Samuel Huntington School would be renovated to house central offices and adult education. Wequonnoc School in Taftville would become a virtual learning center.
Thomas Mahan, Veterans’ Memorial Schools, the Bishop Early Learning Center and the central offices of the former John Mason School would be eliminated.
The three committee members who opposed the motion wanted a second report for three elementary schools with 700 students each at the Moriarty, Stanton and Greeneville sites.
Prior to the vote, DRA officials considered all options for renovating existing schools, building new ones on existing school grounds and three potential new sites. The committee agreed with the company’s analysis that retrofitting existing buildings would be difficult and cause logistical challenges, requiring up to two years of temporary ‘hub’ space or temporary classroom space. displaced during construction.
DRA will present its report to the Board of Education at its 5:30 p.m. meeting on June 14 at Kelly Middle School. A public information meeting will take place on June 21 and a presentation to the municipal council on July 5.
Committee members and architects shared their concern and bewilderment at the lack of public participation so far in the monumental project to reshape the city’s public school system. Only three parents attended the last public forum, despite notifications sent to all parents of students.
“The first two meetings were too thinly attended for a city of this size and a project of this scale,” said DRA Senior Project Manager Gregory Smolley. “It’s probably no one’s fault, but it’s hurting the project as it’s now trying to gain traction.”
City officials hope to receive school board and city council approval this summer and place a referendum question on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Cheryl Hancin-Preston, who attended the meeting held on Zoom, suggested the committee publicize upcoming meetings at busy recreational events around the city.
The construction committee on Tuesday formed a four-member public awareness committee to raise awareness of the project.
During Tuesday’s presentation, Smolley reviewed potential new sites between downtown Franklin and Chestnut streets and on Ox Hill Road across from Kelly Middle School and behind Rose City Senior Center. Both sites have been discarded. The city does not own the Ox Hill site and the downtown site is too small and hampered by potential flood hazards.
On the 14-acre Moriarty property on Lawler Lane, a new two-story school could be built on and around the baseball field. A new baseball diamond with better geographic orientation would be created on the school’s current site, Smolley said.
The 24-acre Stanton School site is hampered by wetlands and a creek below the facade of the existing building. The architects proposed a two-storey school, built into an existing slope, reserving flat land for sports fields and playgrounds.
The Uncas School’s 11 acres are smaller than the desired 17 acres, Smolley said. DRA proposed a new school on the upper flat area behind the school and the straightening of the Elizabeth Street extension for better circulation.
The former Greeneville School site on Golden Street, closest to the population center for school-age children, is the best new site, Smolley said. The city owns the parcel and adjoining property which extends to Boswell Avenue for better access. The architects proposed a two-story building with a road from Golden Street to Boswell Avenue.
A difficulty lies in the steep slopes, greater than 5% on the property.
“That’s why they invented dynamite and big equipment,” Smolley said.