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Rising Enrollment Causes Space Crunch In Darien Schools

The increasing number of students enrolling in Darien schools is creating a space issue.
The increasing number of students enrolling in Darien schools is creating a space issue. Photo Credit: Jennifer Voelker

DARIEN, Conn. — Darien schools are running out of space to house the increasing number of elementary students who are enrolling . The administration is beginning to look at options for places to put all the kids.

"We're getting very tight," Superintendent Stephen Falcone said.

This year, there are already five more sections than originally projected, bringing the total to 110, plus six sections for the Early Learning Program, he said. There could be four additional sections next year, though it is tough to predict how many children will be moving into new housing developments being built in town, Falcone said.

The five elementary schools have 126 classrooms. Falcone is confident that there will be enough space next year, but he said he is not sure there will be enough to house the Early Learning Program sections, which are currently divided between Hindley and Tokeneke elementary schools. It would not be ideal to further split the Early Learning Program among any more schools, he said.

Possible options include construction on existing Board of Education property, renovation to existing property, construction or renovation on town-owned property, or purchasing or leasing commercial property. The Early Learning Program could be moved to a centralized location, but the district would have to consider transportation and playgrounds, among other items.

Constructing a new building could take three or four years, Facilities Director Michael Lynch said. An addition onto a school building would take less time, but none of the schools are designed to have additional floors added on top of the existing structures, he said.

Portable classrooms could be added within five months. If the Board of Education wanted to add portables, it would have to act quickly to secure funding from the town.

The Board of Education created a facilities committee at its Tuesday night meeting. District administrators will soon bring the committee their top suggestions for tackling the space issue, Falcone said.

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