A groundbreaking ceremony was held yesterday for the Rockwell and Johnson Schools renovation projects. The schools, the town and Rizzo Corporation hosted the ceremony in Johnson's side parking lot. The ceremony was dedicated to former Board of Education chairman Larry Craybas, who passed away over the weekend after a battle with Leukemia. He served a decade on the board, the past 8 years as it's leader.
The project has been in the works for over 10 years. The Board of Education began discussing the feasibility in the early 2000s. 45 percent of eligible costs for the renovations will be covered by state reimbursement.
Rockwell and Johnson school mascots Rocky the Ram and Jazzy the Jaguar.
(Photo: Bethel Public Schools Facebook)
Site work is now underway and construction is expected to be completed by December 2020. Portable classrooms, with utilities, are being installed.
Johnson School was built in 1980 to house grades 4 and 5. Rockwell School, which was built in 1971, was renovated in 1977. Rockwell is one of two schools in Bethel for kindergarten through third graders. Superintendent of Schools Dr Christine Carver says they're trying to build schools that keep the 21st Century student in mind, creating a learning environment that will best prepare students to be part of a global workforce.
Among the areas in need of upgrade is compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the bathrooms. Both schools have problems in heating and cooling, and after renovations the buildings will be climate controlled. Neither building has central AC currently. The bus loop and parent drop off currently presents a safety concern. The project design separates the bus and parent drop off. The fill removed from the back of Rockwell will be used to expand the playground area.
A new rear staircase and elevator will be installed at Rockwell, and the front parking lot will be raised up. At Johnson school, there will be some partial tree removal, gym demolition and construction and the new addition of the 5th grade wing, including STEM room and media center, will start.