Long Lots Elementary inspection reveals need for rebuild


Photo by Genevieve Frucht ’24

Long Lots Elementary School was originally built in the 1950s as a middle school. Over time the appliances and systems in the school have deteriorated, leading the Board of Education to recommend a rebuild of the school.

 Westport Board of Education (BoE) recommended that the town construct a new Long Lots Elementary School  building in June 2022 after an inspection of the school showed that many of its systems and components are no longer working properly. 

The town is still considering whether a rebuild or renovation is the best option. However, it is leaning towards reconstruction, as replacing the equipment and maintaining the aging building have become increasingly expensive. In addition, the school is not ideal for educating elementary students because it was originally built as a middle school. 

Superintendent of Schools, Thomas Scarice, provided the BoE with a number of criteria to consider for deciding which approach to improving Long Lots would be most beneficial. These criteria included the displacement of students, hazardous material waste, whether a new building could fit on the Long Lots campus alongside the current building, whether a new construction or renovation would better address the small classroom sizes, and if a renovation would meet renovation standards.  

“After a comprehensive assessment of the building, the Board unanimously felt that rebuilding Long Lots was the best decision because of the financial, structural and educational considerations,” BoE member Liz Heyer said.

  A large issue found during the assessment of Long Lots was that a renovation would not comply with the standards for renovation set by the CT Office of School Construction Grants & Review. A new building would avoid the issue of needing to place students in alternative learning locations because the building would be constructed on the current Long Lots campus, but in a different location. However, a renovation would be disruptive.

“A renovation would require the district to provide alternative learning settings for students during a renovation.  Perhaps some of the work can be performed incrementally over summers,” Scarice said. “But I find that [a] full renovation would be incredibly disruptive to students, faculty and families.  We would need to develop a plan and expect massive disruption.”

No matter where our staff and the program are located, our mission is always to provide the most appropriate educational programs for children. A new space will enhance our program and bring excitement all around.

— Stepping Stones Principal Megan Clarke

If the final decision is to rebuild Long Lots, the BoE will determine how many students will be able to attend. They will consider the space in Westport’s other elementary schools and what puts students in the best learning environment. 

“It’s likely that the school administration will specify an enrollment for the new [or] renovated building that is lower than the current enrollment at Long Lots,” Heyer said. “If that is the case, then redistricting would be necessary.”

According to CT Insider, if Long Lots is rebuilt, it could include “flexible spaces for students, bigger classrooms, and collaborative learning environments.” These updated classrooms would allow for a learning environment more tailored for elementary students. 

“Teachers would be able to incorporate more movement in the classrooms, which helps students with their ability to focus,” Long Lots principal Kimberly Ambrosio said. “Students would also be able [to] work within flexible groups, which would help foster collaboration and problem-solving skills.”

A rebuild of Long Lots comes with the possibility of Stepping Stones Preschool, which is currently located on the Coleytown Elementary School campus, being moved to the Long Lots campus. There is currently limited space at Coleytown Elementary, so moving Stepping Stones to Long Lots would allow for a learning environment more suitable for all Stepping Stones and Coleytown Elementary students. 

“No matter where our staff and the program are located, our mission is always to provide the most appropriate educational programs for children,” Stepping Stones Principal Megan Clarke said. “A new space will enhance our program and bring excitement all around.” 

While a possible rebuild of Long Lots brings excitement for many about the new space, it sparks nostalgia amongst former Long Lots students. Amelia Tarsy ’24 remarks on her memories of certain aspects of the school.

“I had no idea any construction was being done, but hearing about it makes me feel kinda sad,” Tarsy said. “I loved the murals and the duck hallway. They made Long Lots feel really special.”

While a final decision has not been made, the unknown leaves room for excitement and challenges. 

“It is exciting to think about a new school that could be designed to meet the developmental and academic needs of younger children,” Ambrosio said. “I know that a project of this magnitude would be extensive and time-consuming, but I am confident that our building and planning committees would be up for the challenge.”