Madison Releases Plans for New Elementary School

MADISON — School officials released the first draft of a plan for the new Jeffrey Elementary School building at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday. 

The plan is part of a $85 million building project that includes constructing a new pre-kindergarten to fifth grade elementary school, closing Jeffrey and Ryerson Elementary Schools and the Town Campus Learning Center, converting Brown Intermediate School into a kindergarten to fifth grade school and renovating Polson Middle School.

According to the document, the building will include space for 600 Pre-K through fifth grade students.

Dan Hansen, an independent educational consultant and former assistant superintendent at South Windsor Schools, presented the report at the meeting. He said that the document took into account feedback from nearly 45 teachers, administrators and support staff. 

Superintendent Craig Cooke told CT Examiner that it was “exciting” to envision the new building. He said it would have larger classrooms than the current Jeffrey or Ryerson buildings, and that it would have upgraded security, modernized HVAC systems and energy-efficiencies, such as a roof with solar and potentially geothermal wells.

According to Cooke, the project will cost approximately $60 million, and would be eligible for state reimbursement for up to 18.5 percent of the cost. He said the district was working on finalizing the purchase of the property, which is on Mungertown Road.  

Inside the new building 

The report notes that the building will include 5 kindergarten classrooms, 9 first and second grade classrooms, and 11 classrooms for third, fourth and fifth grades. All the classrooms will have air conditioning and wifi capable of handling one-to-one devices.

Other amenities include a library media center, a world language classroom, a STEM lab, arts and music rooms and rooms for coaching and tutoring in math and reading and for special services. 

The building will also have a 6,000 square foot gymnasium with a platform stage. Cooke said at the Board of Education meeting that having the gym be on the larger side would allow it to be available for community use. 

“It will not be as large as Brown’s, but it will be certainly usable for full-court basketball,” he said. 

Hansen said they were also considering separate playground spaces for Pre-K and K versus first through fifth grade. The report includes plans for “paved play areas,” baseball and soccer fields and playground equipment.  

Concerns about enrollment 

Board member Katie Stein said she’d heard concerns from community members about the schools having enough space if enrollment increases. 

According to a presentation at the Board of Education meeting last April, the district expects K-3 enrollment to increase from last year’s ten-year low of 602 students to 723 students by the spring of 2031. Fourth and fifth grade enrollment is projected to increase  from 319 students to 400 students over the next 10 years.

Cooke told Board of Education members that the size of the building was based on enrollment projections for eight years ahead — the maximum length of time in order for the district to receive funding from the state. He also said that the Brown Intermediate School — which under the referendum would be converted into a K-5 school — would have additional space.

“I’m always concerned, when we talk about enrollment projections years out … when you have an attractive school community and families are wanting to move in, you always have the potential to increase,” Cooke said.  

The project will go to a referendum in February of 2022. The Board of Education plans to review the plan further and discuss the budget for the project at its upcoming meetings in October.

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