Jan. 23—NEW LONDON — Space in schools has been at a premium during the COVID-19 pandemic as districts have scrambled to find ways to socially distance students and keep close contacts at a minimum.
To meet the demand the Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication, or ISAAC, has been renting classroom space at the nearby Garde Arts Center.
That need for more space is now the impetus for a planned addition to the public charter middle school at 190 Governor Winthrop Blvd.
ISAAC has applied to the city's Planning & Zoning Commission for permission to construct a three-story addition. The commission is expected to consider the application next month.
The proposed addition is actually two levels built out from the side of the building and suspended above the first floor. It would be constructed on the side of the building adjacent to a privately owned parking garage. Space below the addition would allow for an outdoor classroom space.
ISAAC Executive Director Nicholas Spera said the addition would house a dedicated science classroom — something the school doesn't have now — and a band and chorus room.
ISAAC's building is a former YMCA, and the current band room is located where the pool used to be. Spera said this addition would allow students to spread out and lead to a wider reorganization of space within the school.
"These would be the largest rooms in our school," Spera said.
The design of the 3,410-square-foot addition was developed by JCJ Architecture, the same firm that designed the renovation and expansion of the school's cafeteria.
The estimated $1.5 million price tag for the project and would be partially funded through federal funds the school received through the American Rescue Act Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Spera said the school received about $1.1 million in federal funds and intends to use about $900,000 for the project with the difference being financed by the school.
ISAAC opened in 1997 and has an annual enrollment of 276 students. It is not part of the New London school district.