NORWALK – A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday morning at the Norwalk Early Childhood Center, the public school system’s new facility dedicated to pre-school learning.
The six-classroom facility is housed within a portion of the former Roosevelt Elementary School at 11 Allen Road, which last held classes as a public school in 1974.
Video by Harold Cobin at end of story
Following a $2.9 million renovation, each classroom has been extensively refurbished to serve the needs of 3- and 4-year-olds, including nearly all of the system’s pre-school special education students.
“The center will be home to a program that has been designed to support the development and needs of each child through age-appropriate academics, cognitive, emotional, language and physical activities,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski said in his remarks before the ribbon cutting.
It also has a creative arts program that features music, art, theater and movement, Adamowski said.
Mayor Harry W. Rilling noted that by establishing the center, the city avoids having to send students out of district.
“We can serve their needs here,” said Rilling, “which is better for them because going out of district is very difficult, is very trying not only for them, but for their parents, but it’s also something that ─ it’s not the most important, but certainly important ─ is that we’re going to be saving the City of Norwalk a lot of money.”
Rilling also said that investing money in Norwalk’s young people provides a greater return than any other investment the city could make.
Each classroom has up to 18 children, evenly divided between typical and special needs students. A teacher and two para-professionals are assigned to each class.
The students attend for half a day, with morning and afternoon sessions. The center has a capacity for 208 students between the two sessions.
Besides classrooms, the building has offices for the school’s director, speech and language, occupational, physical and behavioral therapists, and a nurse’s station. It also incorporates the gym from the original school.
Having all of this under one roof “helps so much just with the efficiency of delivery of services,” said the school’s director, Kristen Mosher.
Mosher noted that previously, she, as the special education supervisor for pre-school classes, and the support staff had to travel to six schools.
One full-day special education class continues at Fox Run Elementary School.
“It’s a very functional space for the application and what they’re using here,” said William Hodel, who, as the school system’s director of facilities and maintenance, oversaw the restoration project.
Hodel noted the school also has a newly-installed video surveillance system and security features that control access into the building and enable teachers to lock their classrooms in the event an intruder has gained entry.