All of Greenwich Should Support Plan B for a New New Lebanon

Letter to the editor submitted by Eric Maurer, Byram, dated June 15

There is consensus in Greenwich to address the State’s concerns of racial imbalance and narrowing the achievement gap by building a new New Lebanon Elementary School, but the exact location of the new school is still being debated, and could be resolved this week. All Greenwich residents should support the best site for a new school, the Plan B site, because it is the town’s best opportunity to build a compelling magnet school, not just for Byram but for all of Greenwich.

If we fail to adequately address the State’s concerns, the State could mandate that we address these issues by redistricting or by busing, both of which were soundly dismissed by the entire Greenwich community. Therefore all Greenwich residents should voice their support for Plan B by emailing the Board of Ed, the Board of Selectmen and signing the petition online:

When the Board of Selectmen rejected Plan C, and asked to see a Plan D, they narrowed the debate between two options: Plan B and Plan D.  Plan B proposes building a new school on the site with the most potential, the William Street field; while creating bigger and better green space, ball fields and parking on the site of the old school with minimal disruption to the students. In contrast, Plan D maintains the status quo by proposing a new school in the same limited location as the old school, doing nothing to improve the green space, or parking, while wasting tax payer dollars displacing students for two years for minimal improvement. Plan B is the best long-term investment for taxpayers, receiving the most funding from the State, only costing Greenwich approximately $13M to build an estimated $30M facility.

New Lebanon is the only elementary school in Greenwich without direct field access to properly deliver the physical education curriculum.  Plan B addresses this by preserving open green space right next to the new building; Plan D perpetuates this problem with the field 30 feet below and hundreds of feet away from the school. The school does not currently use the ball field because the prohibitive transit and setup time leaves no meaningful instructional time. Only Plan B addresses this issue, creating field access equity for New Lebanon, enabling us to design a compelling, attractive new building to house our International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.

– Plan B provides direct field access for students, which plan D fails to address.

– Plan B creates up to 132,000 sq ft of new green space, while Plan D merely maintains the existing 50,000 sq ft.

– Plan B provides for a regulation-sized baseball field and multi-use field, while plan D fails to improve the existing under-sized field, much less add an additional one.

– Plan B improves access to the school with the entrance and parking on the same grade, with additional parking on the old school site, while plan D preserves the status quo: limited parking at the bottom of the hill, away from the school.

– Plan B improves bus and parental pickup and drop off, as well as evacuation and emergency access, while Plan D perpetuates the current dead-end bottleneck and single-point of access for buses, cars, evacuation and emergency services.

– Plan B allows for a compact energy-efficient building, while Plan D’s narrow site forces a less efficient structure with a larger building envelope.

– Plan B would emphasize optimal northern and southern exposure, while Plan D maintains harsh eastern and western light.

Moving forward with Plan B will mean building on the best site with the most potential, designing an attractive magnet and community school, making the best long-term investment for our children and our community, while putting forward a good faith effort to address the achievement gap and racial imbalance. This is why all of Greenwich should support Plan B.

Eric Maurer