District officials say teachers in Saxe Middle School’s art and music rooms have started packing up in boxes as they prepare on the final day of school (June 21) to vacate for a time so that extensive capital work can be completed this summer.
Daniel Clarke, manager of facilities operations, told members of the Board of Education that his office is coordinating with construction company O&G Industries as well as the fire marshal to work within and even enhance a “very detailed, well-organized and thought-out plan” from Saxe Principal Greg Macedo.
“It really has been a team effort to try and make this as efficient as possible,” Clarke told the Board of Ed during its meeting Monday, his first since taking over in the role from Bob Willoughby. “Because here we are in May and we say: ‘We are moving next month.’ When you say it that way, the urgency is there.”
The $18.6 million project is on time and budget, officials have said. To be completed for the start of next academic year, it includes the renovation of the 60-year-old auditorium at Saxe, as well as a “right-sizing” of music rooms that a building committee immediately identified as a need, and a 12-room addition that emerged a few months later to address rapidly rising enrollment at the overcrowded middle school.
Together with Assistant Facilities Manager John Perna, Clarke said he’s been working to ensure that the new addition’s systems connect efficiently to existing systems, as designed, and with the project’s architect and furniture suppliers to ensure that some of it “can be shipped early, to get shelving units and things to the storage rooms, just to minimize the amount of double-moves.”
“So for example, for the art rooms, the best scenario would be to move them out of the art rooms directly into the new space,” Clarke said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School.
The Saxe Building Committee—in addition to Rashin, it includes Vice Chairman Jim Beall, Secretary Ken Campbell, Molly Ludtke, Alan Sneath, Bill Walbert, Amy Murphy Carroll and Dr. Jo-Ann Keating—broke ground on the project last summer.
New Canaan’s public funding bodies, the Town Council and Board of Finance, each unanimously supported the project following well-attended public hearings in the fall of 2015, at which dozens of galvanized parents and other residents, including some students, spoke out in favor of it.
According to Clarke, officials also are focused on working efficiently so that O&G can “go back to the existing music and art rooms and do all the light renovations and work that needs to be done so that all those spaces occupied in September, as well.”
“It has been a very good process, a very good team effort, and I think it is going to result in some very positive outcomes,” he said.