Rowe School makes plans for fall opening

  • The Rowe School Committee and community members got a preview tour of the new Rowe Elementary School on Thursday afternoon. Recorder/Diane Broncaccio

    The Rowe School Committee and community members got a preview tour of the new Rowe Elementary School on Thursday afternoon. Recorder/Diane Broncaccio Purchase photo reprints »

  • The new Rowe Elementary School will be ready for students next fall. Recorder/Diane Broncaccio

    The new Rowe Elementary School will be ready for students next fall. Recorder/Diane Broncaccio Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Rowe School Committee and community members got a preview tour of the new Rowe Elementary School on Thursday afternoon. Recorder/Diane Broncaccio
  • The new Rowe Elementary School will be ready for students next fall. Recorder/Diane Broncaccio

ROWE — Despite an unusually cold winter, the new $6.9 million Rowe Elementary School has gone up quickly. School building Project Manager Daniel Pallotta, who promised the town “a gem of a building,” says it’s unlikely the building won’t be ready for students in time for school this fall.

Currently, the projected enrollment is for 58 students — with 31 from Rowe and 27 coming from other towns through School Choice. Rowe has had to limit the number of new School Choice students it could accept while housed within the Hawlemont Regional School over the past two years, since the Rowe School fire.

But once in its own school building, Rowe plans to accept up to a dozen more School Choice students this year, according to School Committee Chairwoman Lisa Miller.

Pallotta said the new building is extremely energy-efficient — “way beyond stretch code,” he told the school board, referring to an advanced energy-efficiency state code. The old school building’s entrance and school bus driveway faced south, with the classrooms mostly facing north. The new school, however, has its entrance and driveway behind the building, so that classrooms and library, with a bowfront window, get full benefit of the sunlight from the south.

The building has four classrooms: pre-k and kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-4, and grades 5-6. There is a separate Projects Room, a special education wing with a few classrooms and smaller SPED work areas. There are administrative offices near the entrance, a faculty area, cafeteria/community room, and a spacious gymnasium located near the playground.

The School Committee has begun discussing moving plans with Pallotta. Rowe’s lease with Hawlemont expires July 1, although Rowe has set aside money as a contingency, in case it needs to remain at Hawlemont longer. However, Hawlemont is planning renovations as it moves toward its farm-based curriculum program for the fall. School Building Committee Chairwoman Susan Zavotka said it would be better if Rowe could be moved out so that Hawlemont could do renovations.

There was talk of renting storage space, but Pallotta pointed out that it’s inefficient to “move the school twice.”

Pallotta said he will come back to the board’s Wednesday meeting with a moving plan. He said it might be possible to “accelerate” the building of the gymnasium, so that it could be used for temporary storage of supplies this summer. The meeting is 4 p.m. in Town Hall.

The Rowe School Committee recently received a $20,000 grant from “Beyond Words,” the Dollar General School Library Relief Fund, to help restock the school’s library. In the grant application, Principal Bill Knittle reported that the entire school library, with at least 6,500 books for children, was destroyed. He itemized the loss of library/media collection materials at about $50,000.

Recently, the Mary Lyon Foundation announced it was raising money for school provisions and furnishings that would not be covered by the fire insurance. So far, that campaign has raised an additional $5,000.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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