FOTM broke this headline today, based on research by Wolfgang Halbig:
Go there for the full article, which supplements the evidence that reports and photos about the event were posted before it occurred.
FOTM broke this headline today, based on research by Wolfgang Halbig:
Go there for the full article, which supplements the evidence that reports and photos about the event were posted before it occurred.
Wolf Halbig has been sending friends pictures from police files of windows from the old Sandy Hook School. Pictures that make no sense from a strictly time-sequence perspective.
See if you can figure this out. Below is a photo of a police vehicle with various officials (I think Wayne Carver is one of them) hanging around after the alleged Sandy Hook shooting on December 14, 2012. It’s pretty obvious that this would have been taken post-Event. In any case, the photo is said to have been taken at 4:56:32 p.m. on 12-14-12. Note the row of perfectly intact windows outlined with a circle.
And here is a photo of the same row of four windows with one of them shot out.
Wolf’s question is this: When was this window shot out? By whom?
Erica Lafferty, daughter of former SHES principal, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, apparently does not appreciate what Mr. Jones and others have said about Sandy Hook. In this USA Today article, she lobbies for President-elect Trump to denounce those who deny the “fact” of the Sandy Hook massacre. Ms. Lafferty writes: “We cannot normalize fact-denying behavior.” And she states that theories questioning the “fact” of the Sandy Hook massacre are “antithetical to our shared values.”
What is it about the Sandy Hook Elementary School and special education?
Cinderella sees no reason to mince words on this subject. After Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung began her short term as principal of the school, Sandy Hook Elementary became increasingly “special” in the teachers it hired and the classrooms it harbored. Why?
Was there a larger percentage of needy learners among Sandy Hook students than among peers in other Newtown elementary schools?
Were they slower readers, slower speakers, more intellectually or behaviorally challenged? Were they more likely to need physical therapy and psychological services?
If so, why should this be the case? And, if this was the case, what were the financial and other implications?
Location questions are still valid. The above questions do not invalidate other inquiries regarding the location of the Sandy Hook Elementary school over the relevant time periods. As we have seen in previous posts, a replica of a school can be created when wherewithal is no barrier.
Rather, the questions above are intended to further that inquiry and determine why Sandy Hook Elementary had special characteristics that might have a bearing on 12-14-12.
These are legitimate questions that can’t be answered without first examining the special transition that began in 2010, when Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung first entered the school’s dingy corridors.
Let’s begin with Mrs. Hochsprung/Ms. Lafferty herself. She came to the school with 12 years of administrative background in other systems: Woodbury, Bethlehem and Danbury. Previously, she had earned special qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in Special Ed from Central Connecticut State University in 1993; a master’s in Special Ed from Southern Connecticut State University in 1997 and a sixth-year degree from Southern in 1998. See this article.
So Ms. Lafferty was well-qualified to spur a trend toward special education at Sandy Hook Elementary. And this appears to be what happened. By August 28, 2012, here is how she described her special “intervention team”:
Cinderella has included the bullet item on the new preschool classes above as well, as it raises other relevant and related questions.
Transitioning corridors. Let’s take a peek at how Ms. Lafferty’s team played out via classroom assignments in just two main corridors of the school – the northeast and the eastern – over a three-year period. This will tell us how much more special Sandy Hook Elementary became during Ms. Lafferty’s short term.
I have used the following resources to reconstruct the classroom assignment lists that follow:
1. Northeast Corridor (moving from west to east, then back up the corridor going west again)
*On 12-14-12, two teachers were in Room 8 in place of Amanda D’Amato: Lauren Rousseau and Rachel D’Avino, who was a behavioral therapist.
** There is some uncertainty about whether Marianne Young returned to Sandy Hook Elementary during the 2012-13 year, but since she is not mentioned in Ms. Lafferty’s list as having left, Cinderella has left her in Room 2, where she taught the previous year with Connie Malgrande.
2. Eastern Corridor (moving from south to north then returning back south again)
Simple arithmetic. Here’s how it adds up:
In other words, the spatial and professional investment in special needs education had more than doubled in three years just within these two corridors of Sandy Hook Elementary.
That’s impressive, but there’s more. Ms. Lafferty spun off a list of reading intervention teachers in her August 2012 newsletter, including Diane Dennis, Laura Feinstein, Meg Horn, and Sandy Zuccarello. While these are all familiar names from previous years (although, in 2010-11, Meg Horn had taught 4th grade in Room #62 in the modular wing, not special reading), they add to our number of special/intervention teachers.
And Ms. Lafferty tells us that one more special teacher had been recruited: Lola Aldrich. Giving us a grand total of 15 special/intervention teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012-13. Up from only 7 (if you don’t count Meg Horn) in 2010-11. One could call that a significant transition.
And a preschool, too. Let’s not forget the introduction of a preschool in Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, said (by my source) to be situated in Room #56. Judy Silverlight, a speech pathologist who has since retired, was assigned to the new class. Was this to be a special education preschool? It isn’t clear.
It isn’t clear why a preschool was needed at Sandy Hook Elementary at all, since a very well-established one was/is available practically in the backyard of the school: Children’s Adventure Center at 14 Riverside Road in Sandy Hook, founded in 1969. But perhaps this preschool lacked qualified special education teachers.
One thing is clear: special abilities will be catered to at the preschool in the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, slated to open this fall, as this letter to parents attests:
Perhaps they were there, but Cinderella can’t remember reading anything about them. More to the point, we didn’t see anything about them, as in watching histrionics about them on TV. Imagine mainstream media outlets passing up the opportunity to interview the parents of mere babies traumatized by the event. Imagine them purposely missing out on ratings that twisting the hearts and minds of a willing audience would have brought them.
The problem is, of course, that Cinderella can’t imagine it. Tele-venality being the rule, there would not have been an exception on such a prime occasion.
Perhaps the toddlers weren’t there that day – for strategic reasons.
Who benefits from school planning that favors special needs education? Special needs children, ostensibly. Special education teachers, obviously. Taxpayers, definitely not. Who is the true beneficiary? Well, you tell me. Here is a site to get you started.
Other reasons. Are there other reasons, besides actual student needs and financial benefits, for schools to favor special needs children over what Newtown schools call “typically developing” schoolchildren? That is the more difficult and, perhaps, more pressing question. Are special needs children more suggestible? More vulnerable? Less likely to question or more likely to fall in line with certain rigid parameters? Easier to move toward compromising situations, such as mental health facilities or, even, prison? Easier to convince that they need government assistance? Easier to train into a state of mindless and helpless obedience?
These are questions, not just for specialists, but for all of us to ponder.
“As we wrap up a busy summer at Sandy Hook School, we have a great deal of news to share. As you know, uncertainties surrounding our school resulted in the late notification of classroom teaching assignments. In order to ensure the best possible start to the school year for all of our students, your children’s previous teachers meticulously prepared multiple class lists to meet any of several contingencies. I am extremely grateful to them for their many extra efforts and double-checking!”
So begins the first paragraph on the first page of “The Sandy Hook School Connection, August 28, 2012,” written by Dawn Hochsprung, principal of Sandy Hook Elementary school from September 2010 through December 2012.
Uncertainties? Contingencies? Multiple class lists? Previous teachers? Late notification of classroom teaching assignments? We wonder what all of this means.
The words used in this paragraph signal big change – change that has already occurred and change that is surely to come. We know, of course, about one of those unfortunate changes, but on the premise that the past is prologue, we need to review what came before with our usual patient attention.
So let’s go back to Spring 2012.
March 2012: The Chung conundrum. In March 2012 this became part of the Sandy Hook building renovation saga. Dated March 6, 2012, it’s an ad hoc facilities sub-committee’s recommendation for shuttering a school in Newtown, based on 2009 declining enrollment projections by a “Dr. Chung.” (His/her identity remains a mystery.)
Long story short, Sandy Hook was rejected for shutdown, because it wasn’t ADA-compliant. The logic: ADA-compliant schools are more easily reopened if enrollments go up again. Reed Intermediate (still open) was the chosen one for shuttering because it would save $3 million per year.
The committee recommended that the Board begin the process of a shutdown once elementary enrollments drop to 1,500.
March 29, 2012: One Reed, indeed. In the same month, this appeared: “One School, One Read” in the The Sandy Hook School Connection, March 29, 2012, announcing that a Sandy Hook event (a sock hop) was to be held at Reed Intermediate. Why Reed? Why not the sparkling gymnasium floor of the Sandy Hook Elementary school?
July 12, 2012: An approved school budget. After much tension over the Board of Education’s proposed school budget in May, it was finally approved in July. Elementary education overall got skinned a bit: by a 0.34% cut. Sandy Hook Elementary lost $4,517 from the previous year’s budget, a 0.15% dip in funding. It isn’t nice, but it isn’t something to cause a great stir, either. The biggest cut was the elimination of a vice-principal position and the installation of a lead teacher. Music educators got clobbered, too, losing $16, 649. To view it for yourself, go here, page 10. Note, on page 40, that the previous year’s decision (which Cinderella has made much of before) held: the expenditure on building and site maintenance remained a stark $0. But everyone already knew that. It was a done deal.
July 19, 2012: The “Mum” emails. On July 19, 2012, a peculiar email exchange occurred between Mrs. Hochsprung and Kevin Anzolotti, the school janitor. Reproduced below in larger type:
Was Mrs. Hochsprung’s email referring to the “uncertainties” she mentions a month later in “The Sandy Hook Connection August 28, 2012,”? Let’s review the foregoing:
To put it in perspective: Mrs. Hochsprung already knew about the approved budget a few days before the email exchange with Anzollotti. Yes, she was losing a vice-principal and gaining a lead teacher. Yes, the music department was taking a hit. But, for the most part, things were much as they had been. So what’s this new kerfuffle about in the email exchange? And why does it continue in the items outlined below?
July 26, 2012: “Placement.” In The Sandy Hook School Connection, July 26, 2012 came this from Mrs. Hochsprung: “We are in the final stages of determining the impact of the reductions reflected in the passed budget. We will send placement letters with class assignments early in August. Please be assured that your child’s placement will be handled with the same level of personal care and attention to which you are accustomed. Before teachers left at the end of the school year, we worked together to develop class lists that would accommodate any scenario that could result from the final decisions of the Board of Education.” (my bf)
Placement where? In new classrooms? In other schools? In other towns? Why? The budget that passed didn’t require the termination of any general teaching positions.
Ms. Epple exits. On August 22, 2012, a week before “The Sandy Hook Connection August 28, 2012,” there appeared this patch.com article, reporting that Sharon Epple, Reed Intermediate’s principal, (and principal of STARR) was leaving for greener pastures in East Hartford. Why? Was she convinced that Reed would be closing? She would have known: she sat on the ad hoc committee described above with Mrs. Hochsprung.
And that’s about all we could find on the subject of big Sandy Hook changes before September 2012: A strange, confusing concatenation of seemingly related events in which fluster and change abound and most jobs are mercifully retained.
Decisions and revisions. Did budgetary changes lead up to Mrs. Hochsprung’s uncertainties, contingencies, multiple class lists by previous teachers and late notification of classroom teaching assignments? Or did something else? Whatever it was, it also led to the following:
Staffing changes. Let’s return to Mrs. Hochsprung’s article of August 28, 2012, which continues below:
The eight bulleted items above are detailed staffing changes Mrs. Hochsprung announced. In a few instances, teachers are described as leaving. But in most instances, they’re “returning.” (You’ll recognize many of their names.) But returning from where? Don’t teachers always return – from summer vacation? Why devote nearly a page to such returns?
Unless … teachers were coming back from a longer absence, say a sabbatical or boot camp down South. Remember, this communication was dated August 28, more than a month after the “Mum” emails and the secret move in July. Where did the teachers go, and to what did they return? Or was a return unexpected because the Sandy Hook School became the target for a shutdown – despite decisions made earlier in the year?
And … what is this about preschool classes? Mrs. Hochsprung’s last bulleted item above concerns a preschool: “We welcome two preschool classes to Sandy Hook this year. Teachers will be Janet Walker and Eileen Cullen. Speech language pathologist Judy Silverlight will also join that team.”
Strange. I had thought Sandy Hook Elementary School was a K-4 school. I don’t recall seeing anything about preschoolers in the news reports about the massacre. (If you remember, please comment.) What became of these little ones on 12-14-12? Was the preschool closed that morning?
The bulleted item mentions a “speech language pathologist.” Were these special-needs preschoolers? In the 2012-13 budget, page 5, there is a footnote about a “Speech Therapist for St. Rose.” Hm. What is St. Rose (of Lima?) doing in a Newtown public school budget? Or perhaps I’m misinterpreting something. Speech pathologist Judy Silverlight recently retired. Perhaps she knows.
In any case, there is no mention of a preschool at Sandy Hook Elementary in the 2012-13 budget. (See for yourself. Go here and do a search for “preschool.”) Like Dr. Chung and STARR, a special-ed school housed in Reed Intermediate, the Sandy Hook preschool remains an unsolved mystery for now.
Scolding. Cinderella wondered if such attention to teacher comings and goings was paid by Mrs. Hochsprung in the previous year. We found The Sandy Hook Connection, August 30, 2011. And there’s not a word in it about teacher returns or departures. In this issue, the focus appears to be on obeying rules: “It is imperative to both the learning of your child and his or her classmates that we minimize late arrivals and early pick-ups.” This appeared in boldface as shown.
(“Imperative”? Honestly. Why the sternness over an occasional trip to the dentist?)
Housekeeping was a matter of note in this issue, too. We found this reference: “The halls and classrooms of Sandy Hook School are sparkling and ready for another exciting year!”
More housekeeping. Just to be thorough, we checked The Sandy Hook Connection, Sept. 8, 2011 for references to teacher returns. Once again, nothing.
But we did find another enthusiastic reference to housekeeping: “As always, the amazing and dedicated staff of Sandy Hook School has everything ready for your children. Our custodians worked tirelessly to ensure that our school is sparkling in every corner, even without power.”*
As a ballroom dancer, Cinderella can attest: There is absolutely no substitute for a sparkling clean, shiny floor.
Cinderella was going through an old trunkful of Sandy Hook Elementary school memorabilia and came across this scrap. Mr. Halbig’s recent appearance in a hearing room in Connecticut reminded her, so in we went, rummaging until we found it.
It’s all about an email exchange on July 19, 2012 between Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the former headmistress of Sandy Hook Elementary school, and the school janitor, Kevin Anzellotti. Many of you know about it.
But for the sake of new SH event skeptics, go here to Memory Hole blog for a quick jog.
You’ll find this tete-a-tete:
On the morning of July 19 Hochsprung emails Anzellotti:
“How does this look? [Apparently referring to an attached pdf excluded from the document disclosure.] NOT set in stone! I have to notify teachers after we meet next Thursday, then we can get moving. Of course, they will need to come in and pack… This is going to be really hard!”
That afternoon Anzellotti responds:
“I got it and it is what it is it’sbad [sic] for us but I would not what to [sic] be in your shoes as your telling them but all still have jobs I guess that’s a good thing mums the word [sic]”
We have Mr. Halbig to thank for his diligence in wading through 200+ emails to find this snippet. Unfortunately, the link to the original doc has been broken, but here is what it looked like:
I find it helps to review old mail. Cinderella does this after a breakup to discover exactly where things began to fall apart. Of course, in Sandy Hook Elementary School’s case, I think things were beginning to crumble long before this email!
What do you think?
In a castle long ago, Cinderella had an old roof that needed new shingles.
She hired a carpenter to install the shingles, but aloft and unobserved, he cut a hole through the roof. It sprang a leak that damaged the ceiling, and soon the walls streamed with water that came through the hole that the carpenter had cut in the roof that needed re-shingling.
The carpenter said, “I’ll fix that roof, but first, looks like you need a new ceiling and brand new walls.”
But while fixing the ceiling, he shattered a window with the ladder he’d brought, and on his way out, he damaged a door and tore out a cornice, which fell on a mirror and cracked it.
And the roof was never re-shingled. (Cinderella has had a car like this, too.) What began with a secret hole ended in bills, legal parries and, ultimately, an abandoned castle.
The never-ending, shape-shifting repair budget. The old Sandy Hook Elementary school was a lot like Cinderella’s castle. Needs were acknowledged; at one time, needs may have been met. But after all the many things that were said and projected and analyzed, nothing much in recent history seems to have been accomplished.
In sum: Too many change orders. Not enough change. Or, at least, not the kind we were expecting.
Good intentions were stated. But in place of actual activity was a kind of talking, planning, analysis and budgeting ritual. Meantime, decades-old roofs, windows, HVAC and phone systems, shelves, wall tile, floors and paving aged and moldered and rotted and sagged and became obsolete.
No wonder, then, that the school appeared as it did in December 2012. Tacky and pocked, with nearly every corridor and hinge in need of serious attention. Non-ADA compliant, out of money and out of time. Click here to see it through the unforgiving eye of a forensic camera.
To a discerning eye, the school looks decades past its prime – likely shuttered well before 12-14-12. Many, including Cinderella, have seen merit in this conjecture.
Empty of schoolchildren, the Sandy Hook Elementary school would have made the perfect setting for a lone shooter FEMA drill. Or a data storage facility. Or something.
But … what?
The building: A remembrance of things past. Some high and low points in Sandy Hook Elementary’s building repair history deserve a careful review. A few of the items below were once substantiated in the Newtown Bee, but recently the Bee has removed or reset (“memory-holed”) the articles. See my article on “memory holes” here. Note that the items for 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2013 were well-documented in the Fellowship of the Minds blog here.
1956: The original Sandy Hook Elementary school was built on Dickinson Drive in Newtown, CT.
1957-1963: Cinderella found much about Elvis and the Beatles, but nothing about Sandy Hook Elementary. That is a project for another day.
1964: An addition was built onto the original school.
1965-1991: Fishing for news about the Sandy Hook Elementary school building during these three decades is a project Cinderella hopes to undertake at some future time. For now, here’s a 1970 article about a new $7000 well that had to be dug for the school due to a silt problem. (Reed Intermediate would have silt problems of its own decades later. History repeats.)
1992 or 1993: Yet another Sandy Hook Elementary addition was built. (Cinderella found conflicting information on the year.)
2002: Consulting Engineering Services recommended to Newtown schools that Sandy Hook Elementary be “worked on in 2010 over a nine-month period” to upgrade and renovate its heating and ventilation system. Newtown Bee memory-holed the link to the original article, but here is the quote Cinderella found in her old files:
“Sandy Hook School was also built in three sections — 1956, 1964, and 1993. It is being recommended by CES to be worked on in 2010 over a nine-month period. It is estimated to cost $4.5 million for heating and ventilation and $400,000 for air conditioning. The design of the school, the shape of a square, poses problems for efficient ventilation. It has hot air heat and heat coil in the ductwork, according to Mr Posca. The ventilation system is noisy in the library, which also does not have air conditioning and becomes quite warm. The school’s computer lab is in the library.”
Cinderella could find nothing to indicate this work was ever actually begun or completed.
2003: Newtown was toying with the possibility of “landbanking” acreage in the southeastern portion of town to use for a new elementary school. The reason: Sandy Hook Elementary school had an enrollment level that was 30% higher than the other elementary schools. ( See p. 10 here.) Note what’s in the southeastern part of Newtown: Fairfield Hills. (Also note the funny captioning typo on p. 9 here! Hawley Elementary is captioned as “Sandy Hook Elementary School.”)
There is no mention of the possible $4-5 million investment in Sandy Hook Elementary’s HVAC system, discussed in the previous year. It was apparently supplanted by the “landbanking” idea.
2004: Newtown Board of Education was told “there were serious problems with the Sandy Hook elementary school roof.” (Note that the link to the original report in Newtown Bee has been memory-holed.)
2005-2007: Cinderella looks forward to a time when she can fish and find Sandy Hook building history for these years.
2008: Newtown Schools Superintendent John Reed made statements about asbestos in various Newtown public schools. Cinderella found his remarks from the now memory-holed Newtown Bee article in her files:
“The asbestos levels in Newtown schools pose no threat to the health or safety of those using the schools, according to Superintendent John Reed. The areas in the schools where there is evidence of asbestos — the ceiling above the high school pool, areas of the upstairs floor of the Middle School A wing and the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms, are also considered acceptable and safe.”
But despite this breezy analysis, in Sandy Hook Elementary school’s case, the presence of asbestos would be confirmed in 2013, when the decision was made to raze the school due to serious hazmat issues. (See 2013 below.)
It was during 2008 that Sandy Hook Elementary’s website URL showed signs of inactivity according to the Wayback Machine. It attracted strong Wayback Machine interest from 2001-2007, then got no Wayback attention for a long time: four years, from early 2008 through 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. (Go here and look at item 5, then see the Wayback results here.) Then the Wayback Machine started noticing it again in 2013.
2010: Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung began her short term as principal of Sandy Hook Elementary school. She and others produced a handbook for parents and students. The front cover of the handbook features an old sketch of the school, with the address “Dickinson Drive” beneath it. There is no mention in this handbook of the $4.5 million upgrade recommended in 2002. Nor is there any mention of a roof repair. And, of course, the word “asbestos” doesn’t appear. However, see page 16, top, for info on the emergency phone system:
“EMERGENCY PHONE SYSTEM An automated notification system has been designed to alert parents to an emergency (unexpected) school closing. If an emergency situation occurs and Sandy Hook students are to be returned home at a time earlier than usual, the automated system will be implemented and parents / emergency contacts notified.” Interesting.
In June 2010, Newtown Schools allotted a modest expenditure ($25,000) for Sandy Hook Elementary’s building and site improvements in the approved budget. (See page 86, here.) Curiously, the items included HVAC for the computer room ($10,000), but zero for the classrooms, as the chart below shows:
Why would the computer room and portables merit more attention than, say, the Sandy Hook Elementary roof? Or the scruffy hallways, rotting wood and water-stained ceilings?
The total Newtown Schools building expenditure for 2010 (all schools) was $242,000. (See page 86, here.)
2011: In May 2011, a budget was passed that allotted Sandy Hook Elementary school a grand total of $0 for building maintenance during the 2011-2012 year. Yes, you read that correctly: Zilch. You can read about it in detail in Cinderella’s article here.
However, the budget also included a 5-year capital plan, during which Sandy Hook Elementary was to receive $369,500 – eventually, in installments, for building improvements. The biggest item? A $100k cafeteria roof. Not a new roof for the whole school, but a “cafetorium roof.” Take a look at the diagram below (upper right, with my added red arrow) to see how very small that roof would have been if the work had ever actually been done (to my knowledge, it wasn’t):
On pages 72-74 of the same document, you can read about the abysmal condition of many of the items slated for repair at Sandy Hook Elementary and other Newtown schools.
2012. In March this appears, truly one of the oddest documents to emerge in this timeline. Dated March 6, 2012, it’s an ad hoc committee’s recommendation for closing down a school in Newtown, based on 2009 declining enrollment projections by a “Dr. Chung.”
Around and around the committee went, entertaining various “consolidation” and closing scenarios. Closing Sandy Hook Elementary was one option, but it was rejected, along with two other schools that weren’t ADA-compliant. The logic seems to have been that an ADA-compliant school is a better choice for a shutdown – because it could more easily be reopened if enrollments were to go up again.
Head O’Meadow school emerges as the favored school for a shutdown. But in the end, it’s rejected in favor of closing Reed Intermediate. The reason seems to be that closing Reed would reap the biggest cost savings: $3 million per year.
The committee also recommended that the Board begin the process of a shutdown once elementary enrollments drop to 1,500.
And yet. In the same month (March 2012), this little item appears: The Sandy Hook Connection. You can read about it in my post, “One School, One Reed,” here. Cute, whimsical, blithe, it announces that a Sandy Hook event (a sock hop) is to be held at Reed Intermediate. Why?
In August 2012, Sharon Epple, Reed Intermediate’s principal, leaves for greener pastures. Why? Was she convinced that Reed would be closing?
Then, on October 16, 2012: The Board of Education holds a public meeting at 3 Primrose Street. (See it here.) It reminds Cinderella of the famous tea party – in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
(Image above used with permission)
Suddenly a $600,000 expenditure is being discussed to replace the Sandy Hook school’s windows — slated for 2016. (See page 53, here.) Yet, nothing is mentioned about replacing the cafeteria roof, an item earmarked for future funding in the 2011 budget. It’s almost as if the Newtown Board had taken off in a tardis and landed in a different region of the multiverse. Or, like the Mad Hatter, it became stuck in time. Newtime.
(In the 2011-2012 budget nothing was mentioned – at all – about the Sandy Hook windows. Nothing.)
The closing of Head O’ Meadow school and, possibly, Reed Intermediate is also discussed. (See pp 56-57 here.) And this provokes confusion and distress among the poor parents who attended, beginning on page 56. Here are a few of their remarks:
On December 10, 2012: At a Newtown Board of Finance meeting, the Newtown Schools superintendent Janet Robinson leads a discussion about decreasing enrollment in Newtown’s elementary schools and the possibility of a school closing. (Click here.) But there’s no specific mention of Sandy Hook Elementary school’s physical plant.
Then December 14, 2012 happened, changing everything forever.
2013: On Oct. 5, 2013, nearly 10 months after the 12-14-12 event, Newtown passed a referendum to demolish and rebuild Sandy Hook Elementary with a $49.25 million grant from the state of Connecticut. The reason for the demolition: “asbestos abatement.” (Note that the link to the original report in Newtown Bee has been memory-holed.)
Then, on Dec. 2, 2013, Newtown’s Public Building and Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell justified the approved demolition with a report, saying that “had the town decided to reoccupy the school on Dickinson Drive, it would have faced a daunting and possibly insurmountable challenge regarding the presence of hazardous materials.” The school was found to be contaminated by asbestos as well as PCBs. (Note that all of the links above to original reports in Newtown Bee have been memory-holed.)
Well after 2008 – when asbestos became an issue in Newtown schools – Sandy Hook Elementary was still being discussed and treated as an active school facility.
It had a school handbook with a calendar, bus regulations and an alleged emergency phone system. Its physical plant was still in the budget – though just barely. In the March 2012 ad hoc committee recommendation, it was considered and rejected for mothballing precisely because it wasn’t ADA-compliant. Because if it ever had to be reopened, it would be harder to upgrade than, say, Head O’Meadow Elementary or Reed Intermediate.
If Sandy Hook Elementary was still a functioning school complex in 2012, then it was operating without a known school website URL. It was operating despite problems with ventilation, roofing, asbestos and PCBs, not to mention severely worn-out finishes. And it was operating in defiance of the ADA. As one Newtown parent put it, “All schools should be ADA-compliant.”
If it was still a functioning school in 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary wasn’t providing a healthy environment for children. Given Newtown’s financial and other difficulties, which Cinderella explored here, perhaps we can understand the ever-shifting budget. The confused and confusing decisions. The refusal to follow through on recommended repairs. The endlessly revolving planning game. What we cannot understand is why small children should be forced to pay the price.
If it was still a functioning school, Sandy Hook Elementary was on the verge of costing Newtown taxpapers quite a lot of cabbage: $600,000 worth of windows, perhaps in addition to the $369,500 approved in 2011 for the 5-year capital plan. (Of course, other schools would be costing even more.) Was Sandy Hook Elementary the actual school selected for shutdown? Because everyone knows it did shut down – on 12-14-12 – while all of the other Newtown schools have remained open.
If, on the other hand, Sandy Hook Elementary was an empty, aging hulk in 2012, where were the 454 children being educated instead? Cinderella has speculated on this subject here and here. She hasn’t yet exhausted all the possibilities.
And one more If. If Sandy Hook wasn’t used for teaching K-4 schoolchildren around the time of the 12-14-12 event, then just what was it being used for? Was it merely a dingy and drafty cave? If so, why spend anything on it at all?
Remember, there was a $0 building improvement budget for the school in 2011-2012.
But not so in 2010-2011. The last known improvements were:
Is this significant? If so, what does it tell us?
This post has been written to aid others in their exploration of these questions. Cinderella has her own theories, but cannot prove them at this time. Therefore, she leaves the answers to the patient, probing and capable minds of her readers. ~ C.