Plans for a new Long Lots School taking shape

Sep 21, 2022 | Education | 0 comments

By Linda Conner Lambeck

WESTPORT — The Board of Education got its first look this week at the programmatic needs for a new Long Lots Elementary School

While a town building committee recently approved by the Representative Town Meeting will oversee most aspects of the Long Lots construction project, state statues require the school board to approve educational specifications that guide the construction process.

Board approval is expected next month after an enrollment study is complete. Together, the enrollment study and specifications will determine the size of the new school that, in addition to Long Lots, will include Stepping Stones Preschool.

Dan Hansen, a retired South Windsor school administrator and now consultant, was hired by the school district to develop the document. He met over the summer with about 60 district educators.

Long Lots Principal Kimberly Ambrosio told the board at its Monday meeting they felt appreciated and heard during the process.

Education specifications identify the number of classrooms and spaces needed in the school and are used by the architect to design the building.

Tentatively, the plan calls for a 79,980-square-foot structure that would serve up to 98 preschoolers and roughly 584 kindergartners through fifth graders.

The Long Lots part of the structure would have 27 classrooms, one science lab and a gifted and talented classroom. 

Also included in the plans are two world language classrooms, an art room, up to three music rooms, a multipurpose room, library-media center, television studio, technology lab, offices for reading and math coaches, intervention rooms, an administration suite, health services suite, cafeteria and a work room and lounge for teachers.

Some spaces could be shared with Stepping Stones.

There would be three primary entrances to the building, parking lots, playing fields and designated bus and parent drop-off areas.

The plan was developed with a new structure in mind on the Hyde Lane property, but can be adapted if the building committee should opt to renovate the existing school, Hansen said.

Although the uses of some classrooms could change, Supt. of Schools Thomas Scarice said it is important to lock in the square footage during the design phase and to provide programmatic consistency across the district.

“Every school deserves to have equitable space [as well],” Scarice said.

The designated world language classes, for instance, could become maker-space classrooms.

Since it’s a potential fresh slate, however, board Vice Chairwoman Liz Heyer asked the consultant if the plan could figure out a way to make cafeteria lunch lines move faster by, perhaps, creating more pay stations. Right now, plans call for the standard two.

She also wondered if the nurse’s office would contain quarantine rooms for any future COVID outbreaks.

Freelance writer Linda Conner Lambeck, a reporter for more than four decades at the Connecticut Post and other Hearst publications, is a member of the Education Writers Association.

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