Norwalk is poised to make a historic investment in schools throughout the city!
Mayor Rilling's recommendations for a five-year Capital Budget have been approved by the Common Council! It includes a school construction budget which both builds new schools to address over-enrollment and also repairs existing buildings. The budget recommendation provides full funding of the Board of Education’s revised $130 million request, which covers:
- Building a new K-8 school building on the site of the Nathaniel Ely school.
- Fully renovating the current school building on Concord Street to create a modern, state-of-the-art K-5 school.
- Expanding Ponus Ridge into a K-8 campus with a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) focus, relieving over-enrollment at Jefferson Elementary.
- Renovating Jefferson Elementary School “as new,” which will also remove the portable classrooms currently in use.
- Providing $35 million in priority repairs and capital improvements for every other school in the district.
The plan approved by the Board of Ed in January relocates the Progressive model Bank Street program at Columbus Magnet School into the K-8 facility at Nathaniel Ely. An Early Years International Baccalaureate (IB) program, known around the world for the highest standard of teaching, student learning and student outcomes, will be developed for the new school on Concord Street.
In response to the community’s desire for more school choices in the local area, both South Norwalk schools will include neighborhood preference for students living nearby, reducing long bus rides for many students who are currently unassigned to a neighborhood school.
With the budget framework now in place, the Board of Education can move forward with its responsibilities for the academic program elements. To be eligible for state reimbursement, Educational Specifications (Ed Specs) are required to be prepared under the direction of the superintendent. Ed Specs must specifically address the educational programs and activities expected at each proposed building.
While alternatives were discussed during the budget process, input from architects, attorneys and state officials reinforced the need to develop building specifications that are tied to specific academic programs.
To meet the June 30, 2017 deadline for the first two construction projects, Ed Specs committees have been appointed by Superintendent Steven Adamowski for Nathaniel Ely and Ponus Ridge. The Ed Specs committees include educators, parents and community members, and will work under the guidance of architects and school construction specialists.
Committee Meeting Dates
April 19, Columbus Magnet, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
May 9, Nathaniel Ely, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
May 24, Nathaniel Ely, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
April 20, Ponus Ridge MS, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
May 9, Ponus Ridge MS, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
May 25, Jefferson Science Magnet, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Click here for a list of Ed Specs Committee Members.
ED SPECS COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Final budget approval and the creation of Ed Specs are indeed important milestones. But they also represent what is still the early stages of a process that will roll out over the next five years. Ongoing discussion and input from parents and other residents will be critical to the success of these projects. A schedule of public forums, meetings, newsletters, website updates, and other means of communication will provide timely information throughout the process.
While the Capital Budget agreement remains subject to final approvals, the agreed-upon plans represent a significant investment in the City and schools. With the path now cleared to create “Modern Schools for a Growing City,” Norwalk stands ready to develop the most successful city school system in the state of Connecticut!