Renovations at Smalley Elementary School, 175 West St., started earlier this year, but on Wednesday various City Officials held a celebratory grounbreaking ceremony.
Smalley Elementary School is undergoing an extensive $50 million in renovations and it is anticipated that the school will be ready to open in August 2019 for the start of 2019-2020 school year. Presently, Smalley students are going to school at Saint John Paul School.
Chief Operating Officer Paul Salina opened the ceremony thanking everyone involved. He said he believes the project will come in under budget at about $45 million.
“We have been fortunate to receive state and local funding to add on and renovate some of our buildings over the next several years,” said Salina. “Most recently a middle school wing was added to DiLoreto School and the Gaffney School was gutted and renovated as new. This Smalley renovation will provide the area with a beautiful building and a center of focus for this neighborhood.”
The initial project included 12 additional classrooms which allows for both a growing neighborhood population and smaller class size. It adds two science labs, a green house, newly renovated auditorium, larger cafeteria space, an additional computer lab, Adult Ed classroom space, improved space for Family Resource Center and School Based Health Center. There will be additional intervention space for students as well as much improved parking and traffic flow design. Several existing rooms will be enlarged for better instructional space. It also adds space for music/movement, band/chorus, art rooms and much needed storage space. The school would gain about 24,000 square feet with the additions.
State Senator Theresa Gerratana said, “The State is contributing for this re-do. It’s very exciting especially for this neighborhood.”
“I can’t wait until this building is completed,” said State Rep. Robert Sanchez. “I know the parents of this neighborhood are going to be excited and happy.”
Former Board of Education President Sharon Beloin Saavedra, who was vital to the renovation project said, in her 12 years on the board the three facilities project is one of the things that stood out for her.
“Through the board of education the mantra is career ready. We cannot expect our families to buy into college and career ready and students to believe in themselves, if the facilities they are learning in are substandard,” said Saavedra. “It is very important when we talk to our kids about respect for themselves and education that they have a respectable place to come to for their learning.”
Former Mayor and now Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce Director Timothy Stewart added that Kaestle Boos and Newfield Construction did a great in getting this project going.
“We are in the midst of this project. There is a significant amount of work yet to be done,” said Stewart. “These things don’t happen in a vacuum.”
Smalley Principal Elsa Saavedra emphasized that it is exciting that in 2019-2020 all the students will be back with ample space for kindergaten students who are presently at Roosevelt School.
“The Smalley community will also have a more spacious parking lot for parents, guardians and faculty,” Elsa Saavedra said. “I am most excited, not only for the students who will directly benefit from this much needed new facility, but also the potential for a multitude of program improvements.”
Superintendent Nancy Sarra said that on behalf of all the students she wanted to thank everyone involved in the project.
“Everyone rolled up their sleeves and got invested in the area that can help all of our students in New Britain,” stated Sarra. “When we all work together change is possible and our reality is coming true.”
Mayor Erin Stewart said two summers ago she took a tour of the building. Stewart and Sharon Beloin-Saavedra had asked Gov. Dannel Malloy to help fund Smalley after the renovations at Gaffney School.
“It is an honor and a privelege to stand here today and see this investment being made in the Norh Oak Area,” said Mayor Stewart. “It is transformative for this neighborhood.”
Marie Bachand, President of the North Oak NRZ said, “We are extremely happy for the Smalley School renovations. We are also hoping that we can work at the NRZ with them. Maybe we can have meetings and programs here in the community room.”