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What Happened In Newtown Schools This Summer?



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From moving an entire school to replacing carpets, Newtown Public Schools were beehives of activity over the summer as detailed in a report shared with the Board of Education at its September 6 meeting.

Newtown Public Schools Director of Facilities Bob Gerbert, Jr, said following the meeting that “all things considered,” the summer was successful and it is “amazing that everything got done.”

Despite some hurdles like losing a week of the planned summer schedule due to snow day school cancellations in the 2021-22 school year and having a large project — moving Hawley Elementary School’s contents to Sandy Hook Elementary School and Reed Intermediate School while also moving the district’s preschool program from Sandy Hook School to Head O’ Meadow Elementary School — Gerbert said the district’s workers were able to clean the schools and have rooms ready for the start of the 2022-23 school year.

“I think it just speaks to the effort and commitment we have from the folks who work for the Board of Education,” said Gerbert.

Roughly 55 people — between custodians, maintenance personnel, and summer helpers — completed the summer work for the school district. For some summer projects, contractors and Newtown Parks & Recreation crews also completed work.

When it came to moving Hawley School, Gerbert said, “it was a three-headed approach.” A moving company, district custodians, and ten summer workers, who are generally teenagers hired for the summer, completed the project.

With Hawley’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) project underway throughout the 2022-23 school year, the school’s lower grades are being housed at Sandy Hook School and the upper grades are at Reed Intermediate School. To make room at Sandy Hook School, the district’s preschool program was moved to Head O’ Meadow Elementary School for the year.

Some things are in storage for the year, but otherwise, Gerbert shared, classroom furniture and more had to be moved out of Hawley to the new locations. The entire contents of Hawley were moved within three days.

Another project that stood out to Gerbert this summer was overhauling restrooms at Head O’ Meadow.

“Those were bathrooms that are 50 years old, and they got the attention they never got this summer,” said Gerbert.

According to Gerbert, the John Boyle Company of New Britain along with district personnel worked on the Head O’ Meadow restrooms project.

“That was a real collaborative effort,” said Gerbert, adding that flooring and fixtures were replaced and walls were fixed.

Gerbert said the Newtown Parks & Recreation Department “played a huge role” in doing excavation and site work for a new turf field behind Newtown High School.

“Without their help, that would not have happened,” Gerbert said.

While it was a busy summer with everything completed, there is always more work to do. Gerbert said projects on his radar include playground improvements for Middle Gate Elementary School, some flooring projects for Newtown Middle School, and installing a new diving board for the NHS pool.

“It really was a team effort,” Gerbert said of all the work completed in the school buildings this past summer, “and everybody worked their butts off to make these projects happen as well as get the schools ready for the first day.”

The full list of projects, as shared in Gerbert’s presentation to the school board includes Hawley’s HVAC renovations; replacing hallway carpet at Middle Gate; refinishing Middle Gate’s gym floor; replacing damaged asphalt with concrete at Head O’ Meadow; and a new gym floor at Head O’ Meadow.

Also, replacing main area carpet at Head O’ Meadow; Head O’ Meadow bathroom renovations; replacing hallway carpet in the upper floor at Reed; HVAC duct cleaning at Reed; replacing some sidewalk at Newtown Middle School; painting NMS’s A-Wing gym; brick repainting and still repairs at NMS; replacing carpet in the NHS Lecture Hall; replacing flooring in two rooms at NHS; a new turf field behind NHS; and replacing plywood on the NHS auditorium stage.

Education Editor Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at eliza@thebee.com.

The Head O’ Meadow gymnasium before the summer’s work to replace the floor. —Bob Gerbert, Jr, photos
Head O’ Meadow’s new gym floor.
A view of the old carpet at Reed Intermediate School.
A new carpet at Reed Intermediate School.
A bathroom at Head O’ Meadow Elementary School before the summer’s work to update it.
A bathroom at Head O’ Meadow Elementary School with a new floor, new fixtures, and walls fixed.
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