Cheshire BOE considers new school building on Marion Road

CHESHIRE — Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan presented a plan for another “test fit” for a possible new elementary school to be located on Marion Road.

The presentation comes at a time when the Town Council is currently moving forward with the Scenario 6 option presented to them by the School Modernization Committee back in April, which calls for the building of two new elementary schools in the north and south ends of town, as well as the demolition of two current school buildings.

Solan, speaking at the Oct. 13 meeting of the Board of Education, expressed his overall excitement for the future of Cheshire’s school buildings. 

“Over my past 16 years in Cheshire...there are substantial needs for our facilities district-wide,” he began. “Every building needs to be updated...and that’s not the fault of the Board of Education. I want to commend them because it is through much of their hard work that we’re at a place where the community acknowledges the need to update our schools.”

Solan then gave a powerpoint presentation a proposal to locate an elementary school at the intersection of Marion Road and Jarvis Street, including different versions of what the school might look like, vehicle traffic and pedestrian traffic. 

“You’ll see that while the property itself is rather large, there is a fair degree (of land) that you cannot build upon,” he said. 

“We know that the Town Council made a recommendation to consider moving Humiston and the central offices to this site,” he added. “I think part of the rationale is that (Humiston) is 109 years old, is not ADA accessible, and has multiple code violations.”

The four different plans from the firm Moser Pilon all show different renderings of building layouts on the property, and different configurations of each building. 

The first two renderings would have Humiston School separate from the main school building, where the others have the alternative high school attached. Each rendering has a different number of field spaces available, with the second offering the most number of field space. These new fields could help address the town’s growing field use problem for afterschool sports, officials stated.

“(This school) would replace Chapman, and be larger than Chapman currently is,” Solan said. “We would redistrict to alleviate the pressure that we’re currently experiencing (with enrollment), or that we anticipate experiencing as enrollment increases.”

During this first phase, Solan explained that the town would be looking to construct the new schools simultaneously. While Marion Road is on the north end, another school will be built on the south end to replace Norton Elementary, on the existing Norton Elementary property. 

“We have planned here to build a new (Norton) behind the existing school, and they would put a wall between the construction site and the existing building,” he said. “The architects came up with two different test fits for that site.”

Solan then discussed the costs each building. 

“When you look at the new north end school and the south end school, which also assumes the demolition of Norton, the total cost there is between $72 and $87 million after reimbursement. The gross cost is between $108 and $130 million.”

The total costs of the Scenario 6 plan, which included all future phases, was estimated between $427.91 million and $540.24 million when the projects were introduced back in April. The rest of the plan involves demolishing Darcey School and significant renovations to all the other schools in the district. 

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