About 30 minutes after the final class of this academic year on Thursday afternoon, town and district officials gathered on the lawn near the northwest corner of the Saxe Middle School campus for a ceremonial groundbreaking of the facility’s widely anticipated renovation and expansion.
Penny Rashin, chairman of the Saxe Building Committee—a group of volunteers who initially had signed up for a far smaller project, after PCBs turned up 18 months ago in the school’s auditorium—told about 50 kids and grownups who attended the ceremony that “this moment marks the end of two years of planning for the Saxe Middle School project.”
“This project is going to relieve space constraints at the school, provide a renovated auditorium and provide classroom spaces that the students sorely need to get the terrific curriculum that is delivered at the school,” Rashin said on a humid, overcast afternoon.
The project includes the renovation of the 59-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. New Canaan’s public funding bodies, the Town Council and Board of Finance, each unanimously supported the project following well-attended public hearings last fall, at which dozens of galvanized parents and other residents, including some students, spoke out in favor of it.
Rashin said construction would commence this month and continue through the fall of 2017, under a phased plan that will not disrupt Saxe’s curriculum for students.
“This project could not have been done without the incredible support that we have gotten from Town Hall,” Rashin said by way of thanking First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Town Council, project team, owner’s rep SLAM, architect JCJ, construction manager O&G, environmental consultants Tighe & Bond, Saxe Principal Greg Macedo, building committee Vice Chairman Jim Beall, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi, district administrators, Board of Education, Town Clerk’s office, town building and finance departments and “residents of New Canaan for their continued support and paying their taxes for providing excellent schools for this project and allow us to maintain one of the premier school districts in the country.”
Mallozzi said New Canaan’s strong public schools have put in the town in a unique position of growth compared to other towns.
“Our town is growing because we have a phenomenal school system,” Mallozzi said from under a hard hat. “I feel blessed to have a community that is this sought-after, and it is because of our fantastic school system.”
Luizzi gave special thanks to Rashin herself and to Beall who “truly have shepherded this project through, in Town Hall and the Board of Education and everywhere else.”