A majority of Seymour residents voted on October 7, 2009 in support of a proposal developed by Antinozzi Associates to combine Chatfield and Lopresti Elementary Schools in a referendum that drew over 1,500 voters. Though small in margin (773-739), Seymour voters authorized the town to appropriate $32.5 million to expand and renovate Paul E. Chatfield Elementary School and issue bonds and notes to finance the portion of the project not covered by the state’s school construction grant program of approximately $12.9 million after 60.36% state reimbursement. This approval by voters occurred despite recent dismal financial reports and economic negativity.
Since 2003, the Town of Seymour, with the help of two committees formed to review future school facility needs, came to the conclusion that expansion at Chatfield Elementary School, as well as the renovation and/or replacement of Lopresti Elementary School, would be inevitable due to potential residential development in both school areas. Upon the request of the Superintendent of the Seymour Public Schools, MaryAnne Mascolo, the Board of Selectmen establish a Chatfield Elementary School Building Committee (CESBC) in December 2007 to serve as the focal point for a possible school project to bring in front of Seymour voters as a referendum for funding approval. It was anticipated that the CESBC work together to have a ground breaking by 2010 and have the work completed by 2011.
In late April 2008, Antinozzi Associates was hired to provide pre-referendum design services and a feasibility study including the creation of possible design schemes and costs associated with these schemes, based on the needs of the Chatfield School district. As a PreK-5 school, student learning was compromised daily by major physical building deficiencies including aging facilities, antiquated building systems, and lack of space for many of their required programs (i.e. Music, Art). This was in addition to past studies showing housing and population growth faced by the Chatfield School district in the next 3-5 years. The original educational specification criteria used for the purpose of creating design options included a new gymnasium facility (with stage), a new classroom wing, renovating the existing school facility to ‘as-new’ condition per state reimbursement guidelines, and renovations to incorporate a new media center, additional cafeteria seating, and separate music and art classrooms.
Although the immediate growth problem appeared to be in the Chatfield School area, a new demographic study was solicited in June 2008 by the Seymour Public Schools. This study showed that the growth in both the Chatfield and LoPresti School districts would not increase as much as originally expected. Based on this finding, the CESBC considered the scope and cost of the needs at Chatfield, as well as the age and numerous physical building/site deficiencies at Anna L. LoPresti School and created a revised space program list studying the possibility of combining the two school districts into one facility at Chatfield School. This combination found many benefits to address 1) limited increased enrollment, 2) the future need to renovate/replace LoPresti School and 3) major long-term cost savings to Seymour residents.
With its new charge, the newly-named Chatfield-LoPresti Elementary School Building Committee (CLESBC) moved forward with this combined school option and after further developing key design issues, defining costs, obtaining a traffic study, and making numerous presentations throughout the Town in September, the Town of Seymour held a public referendum vote on Tuesday, October 7, 2008.
The final scope of the approved 77,000 SF design for the Chatfield-LoPresti Elementary School Expansion/Renovation Project will include 38,000 SF of renovations to the existing school and 39,000 SF of expansion, the majority of which will include a new gymnasium wing and a two-story, 20 classroom addition.