Ryszard Szczypek, an architect and educational planner with TSKP Studio, said he and other consultants evaluated more than a dozen parcels in town that would meet the needs of the new school, which included 20 acres and utility connections.
Although it’s somewhat uneven, the Cheshire Park site is the best fit. Szczypek said dirt can be moved around to level the site without having to bring fill in or out.
The size of the building is determined by state guidelines for schools of between 1,000 and 1,200 students. A school any larger wouldn’t be eligible for the maximum amount of state reimbursement, Szczypek said.
Tai Soo Kim, an architect with TSKP Studio, explained his design of the building, which is set among woods.
“I feel it has to be very friendly, small scale. Not an institutional building,” he said. “I think the building has to be in harmony with its surroundings. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
Nearly all of the construction and other costs of a new building would be eligible for state reimbursement, according to Szczypek.
“Cheshire’s rate is 33.93 percent today. The future may be another story,” he said.
The state requires submissions for grant applications by the end of June. Szczypek said waiting another year could mean a lower reimbursement since the state is looking into changing guidelines. He said the state’s reimbursement percentage has also been dropping, although the rate for next year is unknown.
“Your guess is as good as mine, but I don’t think it’s going to go higher,” Szczypek said.
A new middle school is the first step in a larger plan to rebuild or renovate the town’s educational facilities. The Town Council would have to approve the plan.
Jeff Solan, school superintendent, thanked the residents and town leaders who attended Thursday’s hearing at Cheshire High School.
“It is critically important that everyone in our community has the facts and understands the information as we move forward and make a very important decision for the future of Cheshire,” he said.