$34M plan would make 12 Greenwich schools compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act

A proposed plan from architect firm Silver Petrucelli + Associates was presented during a board of education meeting Thursday.

Tom Krosnowski and Rose Shannon

Mar 24, 2024, 10:19 PM

Updated 22 days ago

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A new report estimates Greenwich public schools will have to spend $34 million to make 12 schools compliant with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
A proposed plan from architect firm Silver Petrucelli + Associates was presented during a board of education meeting Thursday.
"Getting all the schools up to ADA standards is a far better value for everyone than to pay litigation and settlements," said John Fisher, Greenwich PTA council president.
Costs could increase if Riverside School is added to the list.
"The total cost estimate at just over $34 million is a big number, but everyone knows it needs to be done. Our schools are decades old, decades older than the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Fisher.
During Thursday's meeting, advocates said the issues throughout the district are glaring.
"This is the bare-bones minimum of ADA that we're talking about – priorities of entering the school in a safe manner, utilizing facilities and getting into classrooms. You're talking about the basics," said Stephanie Cowie of the Committee for People with Disabilities in Greenwich.
However, architects say Greenwich is not the only district dealing with this issue.
"I want you to know that this is incredibly common, all districts are dealing with this. Schools were built mainly from the 1950s to the 1970s, so they all have these common issues," says Michelle Miller from Silver Petrucelli and Associates.
The two schools that will be the most expensive to update are Greenwich High School and Western Middle School. Most of those costs will be for elevators, sinks and school entrances.
"Western Middle School is built into the hillside, there are steps. You have to rise about 10 feet just to get to the main entrance, those stairs, and then you get there, and you have to go up or down and there's no elevator," says Miller.
While the presented plan is still a draft and years of construction are likely ahead, there are still concern on how to help current students.
"How do you do an efficient, methodical approach and then also try to meet the needs of your students right now who are compromised because they are in buildings that don't meet their needs?," asks Sophie Koven, Greenwich board of education member.


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