Early work on $10M expansion of Middletown’s Rosa Parks School underway

Planning work on the $10 million expansion of a Middletown school campus has begun and ground will soon be broken on the new project, school officials said Tuesday.

The current Rosa Parks Elementary will look radically different once renovation and expansion work is done by August 2021, Middletown school officials said.

The school will have 13 additional classrooms, but its current learning spaces will be dramatically remodeled to better accommodate a new instructional approach — Challenge Based Learning — the district plans to install there.

Middletown Schools suffers from overcrowding in its elementary schools, and the enlargement of the Rosa Parks campus and is designed in part to relieve those conditions.

“They’ll break ground, move dirt, and lay the foundation in November or December,” said Middletown Schools spokeswoman Elizabeth Beadle. “Then, they’ll start building up after winter or early spring.”

The school will remain open during the construction this school year and through the 2020-21 school year.

The Rosa Parks enrollment of 575 students will grow to 800 by the time school starts in 2021.

The $10 million construction plan’s funds are left over from a $86 million project that led to a new middle school and expanded high school, both of which opened in September 2018.

Details on the bigger Rosa Parks’ enrollment draws from beyond the school’s adjacent neighborhoods are still to be worked out, said Beadle and the Middletown school board is tentatively scheduled to vote on any new admissions plan in early 2020.

“No enrollment decisions will be made until January/February 2020. There is an enrollment committee that will present to the board in January 2020. The board will have to vote on any decisions,” she said.

In May Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. said at the time the school board approved the $10 million expansion “this project will give our students access to innovative learning spaces and the green light to weave their imagination into their learning.”

“Our staff at Rosa Parks Elementary is chomping at the bit to get the project moving for our students and our community and we’re excited to work with them every step of the way,” said Styles.

And Rosa Parks will also be the site of a new academic program – Challenge Based Learning (CBL).

Fran Morrison, senior director of curriculum and innovation, said one of the strengths of the learning team, project-oriented Challenge Based Learning (CBL) approach to classroom instruction is “it is a frame work for teachers and students to learn side by side.”

The learning technique duplicates – in an age-appropriate style – a team project approach toward solving real-world problems using traditional academic subjects. CBL also encourages the development of interactive communication skills, leadership and teamwork that will better prepare students for their work careers as adults.

“Education is going through a massive shift now in response to the shift in the work force (needs),” said Morrison.

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