Creating More Problems To Solve

The New Norwalk High School Building

Miriam Garcia, Paw Print Reporter

On Wednesday, January 26, 2022 a zoom meeting was held by Norwalk Board of Education facilities to present the two design plans for the new Norwalk High School building. Two design plans have been established by Architects from Kaestle Boos Associates. In this zoom meeting they discussed the time span, cost, and problems these building designs would bring. The first design, Option A, costing 191 million for a 347,000 square foot building, would take 55 months to build spanning from May 2023 and December 2027. More than half of this new building would be built on the existing school. This would require parts of the building to be demolished while the new school is being built. A portion of the demolition would occur during the school year with students in the building requiring special permission from the state Department of Public Health. The second design plan, Option B, costing 193 million for a 331,000 square foot building, would take 51 months to complete, but it would occur in two phases. This design plan would have the new building built on the existing Norwalk High School football field and tennis courts. Both these plans would result in the building of a four story Norwalk High School wing and a three story PTECH wing. Also included would be separate administrative offices, a lecture hall, and classrooms built specifically for engineering and computer science.

Although the new Norwalk High building, no matter what plan is followed, would be extremely beneficial for various reasons there are also problems with these designs. One major factor between these design plans actually being put into action is the fact that neither of these designs include a pool. The pool at Norwalk High School is the last public pool open in the city of Norwalk. In 2012, the YMCA closed leaving only the Norwalk High School pool as a public pool for the city residents. By removing the pool the city will lose its only public pool, swimming lessons won’t be able to continue, aquatic classes won’t be offered at Norwalk High,  and the Norwalk High School/Brien McMahon swim teams will have nowhere to practice. 

Mike Kvashchuk, a sophomore on the boys swim and dive team at Norwalk High School provides his concern with these plans. As a sophomore he won’t be able to see the finished product, but will be present throughout a portion of the construction, in which he raises his safety and security issues, especially considering the recent threats at Norwalk High.

“I’m more worried with the building process rather than the final product.”

— Mike Kvashchuk ('24)

If their senior year sports aren’t canceled these students will have to attend practice at another facility. Although some may mind that Mike doesn’t, his concern is regarding finances, “It would be very expensive to rent out even a couple lanes, let alone six lanes.” Transportation to the facility, considering most team members can’t legally drive would be another issue. The exclusion of the already existing pool is confusing to many, “Poured concrete will be difficult to remove and the pool is a lot of poured concrete. Why not just keep the pool and make it part of the plan?”

Other concerns arise as well. Phase one of Option A would require the students and staff of Norwalk High to move into the new building while the old building is demolished. The second phase of this plan is the PTECH classes being completely demolished, affecting about 500 students by putting them in temporary classrooms. This option will also have the estimated time of the existing cafeteria and culinary arts classrooms not operating for three years. The two mini gyms shut down for 20 months. An outdoor walkway would also have to be constructed and then used by the students and staff to move between the PTECH and Norwalk High School wings, causing safety and security concerns. This would also impact athletics because with this plan they would lose their softball and soccer field, which would not be constructed until the new building is completed itself.

Option B would reduce the already limited amount of parking spaces for students to allow for construction. This option will highly impact all athletes. It will take away the football, track and tennis facilities for a minimum of four years. This will ruin the senior sports of  the class of 2024 and the athletic programs for incoming and current students. These athletes would need to practice at other facilities. The younger athletes that practice on these fields would also lose this resource, increasing competition for other spaces for their activities to occur.

 For some, these changes will impact their education and entire high school experience. Almost imitating some of the effects covid had on students. These design plans need to be reevaluated with the needs of students in mind.  No plan will be perfect, but these current designs will cause more harm than good, creating more problems to solve.