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    Thursday, March 23, 2023

    Norwich school construction project will start with new Stanton, Greeneville schools

    Norwich ― If all goes according to the plans on paper, a new Greeneville school and a new John B. Stanton School will be constructed first in the $385 million school construction project approved by voters Nov. 8 and should open in January 2026.

    The School Building Committee met Tuesday for the first time since the referendum approval and affirmed a proposed construction schedule in the master plan proposed by project architect, Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. of South Windsor.

    The multi-phase project is expected to cost city taxpayers $97 million to $149 million, depending on state reimbursement levels. School Building Committee Chairman Mark Bettencourt said he already has been in touch with state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, for support to try to boost the reimbursement rate for Norwich and to help get legislative approval in spring to place the Norwich project on the state’s priority list for reimbursement.

    Norwich Comptroller Josh Pothier said Friday the city will seek to bond the initial $9.5 million by Dec. 31, including $7 million for initial costs on the school construction project and another $2.5 million for other city infrastructure projects.

    The project calls for four new elementary schools, one at the grounds of the former Greeneville School and three on the grounds of the current Stanton, John Moriarty and Uncas schools. The Teachers’ Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School will be either renovated as new for an estimated $99 million or replaced. That decision has not yet been made.

    According to a timeline provided to the Board of Education this week by Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow, the new Stanton and Greeneville schools should open in January 2026, followed by new Moriarty and Uncas schools and the renovated or new Teachers middle school, all set to open in fall of 2028.

    Renovations to the current Samuel Huntington School to convert it into the adult education center and a host of administration and district offices is the final phase, scheduled to open in January 2028.

    When completed, the school district will be reduced from 14 buildings to eight total buildings, dropping from seven to four elementary schools, keeping the two middle schools, adult education/central offices and the Norwich Transition Academy on Case Street.

    Because the new schools will be in areas where school populations are rising, Stringfellow wrote in her report that school bus trips will be shorter, cutting transportation costs.

    Stringfellow sent a letter to staff and parents following the referendum win pledging frequent updates and providing a link to the school construction project website, where the master plan documents are posted along with information from the School Building Committee.

    During Tuesday’s building committee meeting, city Purchasing Agent Bob Castronova recommended the committee hire an “owner’s representative” to oversee all aspects of construction to ensure the project remains in compliance with state reimbursement regulations. The owner’s representative would help put together the construction bids and oversee the work, Castronova said.

    “We want someone who has experience, that has expertise, that has the personnel, that can guide us through,” Castronova said.

    Castronova recommended the committee advertise for firms to submit qualifications and then select finalists to submit detailed proposals for the work with fee schedules.

    The committee, however, put off any action until city officials can meet with representatives from the state school construction office to ensure the city is taking the right steps to get the project off the ground.

    That meeting likely won’t take place until after the holidays, Bettencourt said. The legislative session begins Jan. 4, so the committee will wait until after New Year’s Day to decide its next steps, Bettencourt said.


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