December 7, 2022

Stamford schools abandon pre-K facility in Lockwood, which could be site of new K-8 school

STAMFORD — Trying to find a home for a planned South Stamford K-8 school can put the district back where it once was.

The 100,000-square-foot building at 83 Lockwood Ave., which at one time housed Rogers Magnet Elementary School and later Trailblazers Academy charter school, is one of the places officials are looking at as home of a new public school, said Matt Quinones, the city’s operations manager.

A school building master plan submitted in February called for the construction or expansion of four schools, including a potential new K-8 school in South Stamford. Under the plan, four schools would close: Cloonan and Dolan Middle Schools, Toquam Magnet Elementary School and KT Murphy Elementary School.

One of the first locations considered for the South Stamford School was Cove Island Park, but this plan was quickly abandoned after swift opposition from local residents and the Audubon Society, all of whom sought to maintain the park. Cummings Park and Czescik Park were also eliminated as possibilities.

The Lockwood facility was not initially considered because school administrators said they had hoped to convert the space into a preschool facility to house around 675 students, a project that would cost around $51.7 million. of dollars. They took this proposal to the state and were told that the state would reimburse 20% of the cost.

But officials pulled the project once it became clear federal funds would not be available to help fund it, said Lauren Meyer, a spokeswoman for Mayor Caroline Simmons’ office.

Currently, the building at 83 Lockwood Ave. is home to the Fairfield County Children’s Learning Centers preschool program and the nonprofit Domus Kids, which runs a number of programs inside the structure.

Quinones said the application for a K-8 school in South Stamford will be submitted to the state next year.

If approved, the city would be eligible for a 60% reimbursement rate. Previously, Stamford received a 20% rebate for school building projects, but that was changed this week by special state-level legislation.

“I think at some point in the coming financial year a decision would be made about the South Stamford school,” Quinones said.