FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the New Torrington Middle/High School Project?
The proposed Torrington Middle/High School is a new school that will be located on the same site as the current high school building that will be designed to implement the career pathways. It will serve students in grades 7-12.
In August 2018, the Board of Education formed an Ad Hoc Committee to explore a proposed Middle/High School project.
In September 2019, representatives from the Torrington Board of Education, as well as Torrington High School administrators, teachers, students, and community members participated in a day-long “visioning” session with educational planning consultant Dr. Frank Locker and architectural consultant Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc. During the next few months, KBA conducted interviews with staff and students at both the middle and high school. In subsequent meetings, participants examined local and national educational trends, best practices, and issues affecting the delivery of a rigorous, comprehensive education.
As a result of these sessions, participants conceived a conceptual diagram that reflects the public school’s strategic plan. These core design considerations included small learning communities, collaboration, and innovation. Priorities included community use of the facility, cost control, flexibility for future programs, customization, and energy efficiency.
The new Torrington Middle/High School will:
- Feature career pathways that provide workforce experiences
- Secure a state reimbursement rate of approximately 62.5%
- Meet NEASC accreditation standards
- Reduce choice tuition costs
What is the Condition of the Existing School?
The existing Torrington High School was built in the early 1960s. A portion of the facility underwent additions and renovations beginning in 1999, which included a media center, guidance offices, increased cafeteria space and minor renovations to limited spaces throughout the building.
Due to the age of the building the following repairs and renovations were recommended:
- Mechanical, electrical, fire protection and plumbing systems are at the end of their useful life
- New security systems
- Upgrade to code and accessibility enhancements
Why a New School vs. a Renovation?
Torrington Public Schools studied multiple options to address the failing building, including the following:
- Maintaining the Existing Facility while replacing elements that have deteriorated or passed useful life expectancy
Additions and Renovations as needed to support the educational needs as well as accommodate 7th and 8th grade students on campus. This process studied the complete transformation of the building and replacement of systems that have deteriorated or passed their useful life expectancy
The comprehensive study showed that designing a new school to accommodate today’s programs is more cost efficient than working within the confines of an existing structure. A new building will accommodate all required program areas and be “right sized” to fit within State of Connecticut guidelines for reimbursement. The addition/renovation concept utilizing the existing building exceeded the allowable building area for reimbursement. The State of Connecticut provides different reimbursement rates for renovations, additions and renovations, and new construction, so the impact of the reimbursement rate was also a factor in determining the most cost-efficient option for Torrington. Additionally, the construction of a new school causes limited disruption to student learning, while additions and renovations would create significant disruption to student learning.
The new facility will include flexible classroom spaces for project-based, collaborative learning. It will be designed to enhance interdisciplinary and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) curriculum. Operational improvements will include sustainable design features, upgraded security features, modern technology and improved athletic fields on the campus.
What is 21st Century Learning?
21st century teaching and learning is a set of current educational best practices that prepares students for today’s modern world while delivering information through flexible, creative spaces that support a variety of learning styles. Examples include but are not limited to movable furniture, flexible classroom spaces, breakout areas for small group learning, and modern technology throughout the entire building.
This style of teaching and learning reduces reliance on lecturing while increasing student engagement by shifting the teaching model to more active, student-centered learning with opportunities for student voice in their learning. It employs project-based learning on a regular basis and groups students in small learning teams to differentiate instruction while fostering communication, collaboration, and improved social skills. 21st century learning creates school and community cultures that value the flexibility needed for change. It positions students to learn 21st century skills, especially the “Four C’s” – collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking, while simultaneously meeting standard curriculum goals. Students foster innovation skills through regular problem-solving challenges that require invention as part of solutions for which there are no singular answer.
What is the Cost of this Project?
The project cost for a proposed new middle/high school is estimated to be $159.6 million. This includes both hard construction costs and soft costs for the project.
How will the Project be Funded and how will it Affect my Taxes?
Funding for any school construction project must be approved by Torrington voters through a referendum ballot question on November 3, 2020. To lessen the tax impact to residents, Torrington Public Schools has applied for a state grant which would provide 62.5% reimbursement on eligible project costs.
Will you look at Grants or Financial Incentives to Help Pay for the Facility?
Yes. Potential opportunities for grants and financial incentives including rebates for sustainable design initiatives, will be explored as the project continues.
What happens if the Project is Not Approved?
7th through 12th grade Torrington students will continue their education in the existing middle school and high school buildings. Funds will be required to maintain the inefficient and aging high school facility and repair or replace building systems as needed at an estimated cost of $112 million. However, the high school will not be renovated to provide the necessary spaces needed to equip students with the highest level of 21st century education. The maintenance-only option includes fixing the existing building systems, hazardous material removal and building infrastructures only and does not include any educational / program enhancements.
What will happen to the Current Middle School?
Currently the Torrington Middle School houses grades 6, 7 & 8. If a new school is built, grades 7 & 8 will move into the new school and the current middle school will then house grades 4, 5, & 6.