What a $10M expansion will do for this Middletown elementary school

A $10 million plan to expand Middletown’s Rosa Parks Elementary will help solve classroom overcrowding and boost learning opportunities through remodeled instructional spaces, officials said.

The school board voted unanimously Monday evening to approve an expanded school construction plan after rejecting a different version proposed by Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. in January.

Styles later apologized to board members, saying he had “failed” them and promised to deliver a new school expansion plan, which he did earlier this month.

Styles said after the board’s approval vote that the $10 million project “is in motion because our design team, our community, our board, and our staff believe in our students and trust the (school district) design team.”

“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.

The construction plan will expand Rosa Parks and will feature 13 new classrooms opened by August 2021.

Originally, Styles’ plan called for expanding Central Academy and moving a grade from that elementary school.

Under Styles’ revised plan, 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 building of a new middle school and expanded high school, both of which opened in September.

He had told board members the modernization of learning reforms his leadership team began in 2017 will require not only smaller classroom sizes but expanded learning spaces within existing elementaries.

Architectural and engineering studies of all seven of the district’s elementary schools showed Rosa Parks was the best campus site for the vast majority of the project, said school officials.

Board member Todd Moore, who had been the most vocal critic of the initial expansion plan, endorsed the new project, saying, “I do understand the importance and the rationale behind this decision and we certainly have need at Rosa that needs to be addressed.”

Fellow board member Cathie Mulligan said she agreed with focusing the construction project on Rosa Parks Elementary.

“I see the efficiency and the reasoning it needs to be one building,” said Mulligan.

And member Michelle Novak said, “I commend the administration for their process and for their expertise” in revising the project.

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