Renovation Or Construction Of A New School Are The Options

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — The Newtown, Conn., school that became a slaughterhouse in December has been closed ever since the shooting that killed 20 6- and 7-year-olds and six adults.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported Saturday, a decision has not been reached on what will happen to the old Sandy Elementary School in the wake of the tragedy.

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The Sandy Hook School Building Task Force, which met Friday night, has narrowed the options down to two: renovating or rebuilding on the existing school site or constructing a new school on nearby property.

Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein said the meeting Friday attracted a standing-room-only crowd, with the discussion focusing on the emotional aspects of returning the school to its current location or moving it to another site.

“Having people comment publicly is much different than having a letter in front of you, and it adds a much different element,” Leidlein said.

And so, the 28-member task force decided not to make a decision, opting instead to reconvene this Friday and take another week to weigh the options.

“I’m really struggling between what my heart says and what my brain says,” Leidlein said.

Leidlein said so far, there does not appear to be a consensus as to which way to go, but added that the time for a decision is coming, so as she said, the town can move forward.

Whatever choice is made, a new or renovated school won’t be ready by the start of the next school year.

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Sandy Hook Elementary School has been empty since the Dec. 14 killings when gunman Adam Lanza, 20, opened fire at the school. He earlier had fatally shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home and he killed himself as police arrived at the school.

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The 430 surviving students have been attending a renovated school in the neighboring town of Monroe that has been renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Residents of towns where other mass shootings occurred have grappled with the same dilemma. Some have renovated, some have been demolished.

Following the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo., in 1999 – in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 classmates and injured 21 others — students did not return to the school for the rest of the year. The students spent the last three weeks of classes at another high school, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recalled.

Afterward, the school – which had just undergone a $15.6 million renovation four years earlier – was subjected to a new $1.2 million renovation in which the bullet-ridden carpeting and ceiling tiles were replaced, along with furniture and paint in the cafeteria, the newspaper reported. The library, where 10 people were murdered, was later torn down and replaced with a glass atrium, the Post-Gazette reported.

The one-room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., where gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot 10 Amish girls – killing five – was demolished 10 days after the October 2006 massacre, the Post-Gazette reported.

Following the massacre at Virginia Tech in April 2007 – in which gunman Seung Hui-Cho murdered 32 people – the Norris Hall science building where the shooting happened was closed for the rest of the spring, the Post-Gazette reported. The second floor, which was the scene of the carnage, later underwent a $1 million makeover and part of it became a home for the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Protection at the school, the newspaper reported.

And after the February 2008 massacre at Northern Illinois University – where gunman Steven Kaczmierczak killed five students and injured 21 during a geology lecture – then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed that the building where the shooting happened be demolished. But the plan was rejected, and the Cole Hall building underwent a $6 million renovation with new labs and a new auditorium.

One new Sandy Hook Elementary school prototype, discussed in a nearly 200 page report, has minimal entrances, high windows, a lockdown system and 26 glass cupolas in memory of each victim.

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