Renderings offer sneak-peek at new schools

Renderings offer sneak-peek at new schools

The two new elementary schools planned in Cheshire are years away from becoming a reality.

Shovels are not yet close to breaking ground and between now and then a lot of planning, restructuring, and re-imagining will have to be done.

Already, the Next Generation School Building Committee is seeing how difficult it can be to bring a project of this size and expense in on time and under budget. At a recent meeting of the Board of Education, it was announced that costs for doing business had already gone up and that the price tag for both structures is now expected to be higher than original anticipated. However, Committee members were adamant that the necessary changes will be made to ensure that budget constraints agreed upon when the project was approved are adhered to.

This was always going to be the challenge for the Next Gen Committee. Prices on everything, including building materials, have been in flux for quite some time, and while one can hope to see those trend lines dipping down in the near future, local leaders must prepare for the worst. That means figuring out a way to ensure the new structures deliver on the 21st century-learning promises made by proponents of school modernization while keeping costs within the necessary guidelines.

So far, it seems most in town are confident in the Committee’s ability to do so.

Yet, while much will change between now and when these schools open to students and faculty for the first time, expected more than two years from now, residents who agreed to fund these projects with their hard-earned tax dollars are getting the first looks at what they may be funding. The renderings, available on the Cheshire Public School District website, show what some aspects of the new structures will possibly look like when completed, though they are only concepts at the moment and liable to change.

The plans are most certainly impressive. They promise a warm and inviting space that seems to fit the educational business model of the 21st century. No longer are school buildings seen as just brick-and-mortar structures that, as long as they contain four walls and safe classrooms, are there simply to house students and teachers. The buildings themselves are seen as a part of the educational process, whether it be the technology they accommodate or the atmosphere they cultivate.

But of course, beauty is only skin – or in this case concrete – deep. What the buildings look like on the outside, and what the classrooms, media spaces, learning centers, and more look like on the inside, can’t teach a student. Only highly-qualified teachers can do that, which is why retaining and attracting more of them is the most important factor in determining the success of the Cheshire School District. A state-of-the-art building isn’t going to turn a bad educator into a good one. An out-of-date facility could hamper a good teacher, but won’t prevent them from reaching their students in the most important ways.

So as the Town continues on with this first phase of school modernization, and eventually turns its attention to the next phases of the expansive project – the other buildings will need updating or replacing – no one should lose sight of what’s important. Modern school buildings are only valuable in the way in which they can enhance the abilities of quality educators. No amount of new technology or inviting classroom environments can substitute for that.

The renderings available for perusing look great. But looks aren’t everything. In fact, they aren’t important at all in comparison to quality teachers. As long as Cheshire retains its educators, local students will be in good shape.


The Herald Buzz

Follow the Cheshire Herald on Facebook & Twitter