New Sugar Maples on Farm Road To Screen Rooftop Equipment at Saxe Addition

Officials soon will plant four sugar maple trees on Farm Road alongside the new addition to Saxe Middle School, an effort to create the feel of a tree-lined neighborhood street. The 4-inch caliper sugar maples will replace some of the trees that came down on Farm to make way for the new construction at Saxe, according to Tree Warden Bob Horan. Horan told members of the Board of Selectmen at their most recent meeting that he met with Saxe Building Committee Chairman Penny Rashin and Vice Chairman Jim Beall, and that the trees “will hide the building to some extent especially the equipment up on the roof.”

“And I think it will look nice,” Horan said at the selectmen meeting, held at Town Hall. “It’s a continued effort to make some of these streets look nice.”

Funds for the plantings will come from the Board of Education, Horan said. (The school board signs off on the work though funds come from the town-approved Saxe Building Committee budget, officials said.)

Selectman Nick Williams asked whether the sugar maples are expected to create a “tree screen” on Farm Road.

FIRST LOOK: Saxe Middle School Addition, Renovated Auditorium [PHOTOS]

District officials on Tuesday gave local media outlets a tour of the widely anticipated addition and nearly finished renovation of the auditorium at Saxe Middle School—an estimated $18.6 million project (including the “right-sizing” of overcrowded music rooms, now underway) that’s expected to come in at about $18.2 million. Built onto the school’s northwestern corner in the middle school’s traditional red brick, the new classrooms, common areas, staircases and hallways are naturally and brightly lit on all four sides—thanks in part to large windows, glass dividing walls between some classrooms, clerestories and a new courtyard created where the existing building meets the addition (see photo gallery above). The tour was led by Penny Rashin, a Board of Education member who chaired the Saxe Building Committee, and she was accompanied by fellow committee member Molly Ludtke, Principal Greg Macedo, Assistant Principal Dr. Steven Clapp and New Canaan Public Schools Director of Communications Michael Horyczun. “We are so appreciative of the support that the town bodies—the Board of Selectmen, Town Council and Board of Finance—and the community have given this project, because we really think it sets Saxe up for success for the next 10 to 20 years,” Rashin said. “You can see the exciting opportunities for education that are going to occur here, so we appreciate all the community support.”

Other members of the Saxe Building Committee include Vice Chairman Jim Beall, Secretary Ken Campbell, Dr. Jo-Ann Keating, Amy Murphy Carroll, Alan Sneath and Bill Walbert.

‘A Very Good Team Effort’: District Officials Work Through Detailed Move-In Plan for Renovated, Expanded Saxe Middle School

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.

Officials: Piles of Dirt at Saxe To Remain through Next Fall Unless Some Other Place Is Found for Them

The dirt piled conspicuously at Saxe Middle School will remain there through the major, estimated 15-month construction project now underway unless some place else is found for it, officials said Tuesday. Mounds of topsoil located off the corner of Farm Road and South Avenue and elsewhere at Saxe are to be returned to the site “to smooth it back over” once a major renovation and expansion concludes next fall, according to Penny Rashin, chairman of the Saxe Building Committee. Responding to a question from Selectmen Beth Jones at a Board of Selectmen meeting, Rashin said she was aware that “everybody is going to want to know about the dirt because you see it as soon as you come in on South Avenue.”

Jones asked about it because, she said, “if I was a junior high kid and I saw those big piles of dirt, I just would not be able to resist.”

“You will need a monitor for that,” Jones said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. The exchange came as Jones and First Selectman Rob Mallozzi voted 2-0 to approve a guaranteed maximum price in the construction manager’s contract for the project, which will see parts of Saxe expanded and a 12-room addition created on the campus. Officials in a ceremony broke ground on the project last week, minutes after school had let out for the summer.

‘This Moment Marks the End of Two Years of Planning’: Officials Break Ground on Saxe Middle School Project

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.