State will approve funds to plan new Sandy Hook Elementary School

The State Bond Commission will approve funding next week to begin the task of replacing the Newtown elementary school that was the scene in December’s tragic shooting of 20 children and six staff members.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who chairs the bond commission, announced Friday that the commission would approve the release of $750,000 to begin design and plan work on a new Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“It’s hard to imagine that six months have passed since that terrible day,” Malloy said.  “In that time, we have mourned deeply for those we lost and done our best to move forward in a way that honors their memory.”

On Jan. 3, 20 days after the shooting, more than 5,000 surviving students and their faculty resumed classes at the Chalk Hill Middle School in nearby Monroe.

That facility, which was unused at the time of the shooting, was refurbished.

A Newtown task force recommended in May that the town demolish the existing Sandy Hook school and build a new one on the site.

The Newtown Board of Education is considering plans for a $42 million, 70,000-square-foot facility.

The General Assembly earlier this month authorized the bond commission to allocate up to $50 million for the school’s construction and related costs.

Malloy said the funding is being made available now to help the new school project move forward as quickly as possible.

“There are many decisions to be made when it comes to the construction of a new school,” the governor said. “There will be many challenges along the way. But it’s my hope that by announcing this funding today, we can help Newtown continue with the healing process. Our thoughts are with those 26 angels today and their families. Their memories will forever be close to our hearts.”

Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, whose district includes Newtown, said,  “On the sixth-month anniversary of Dec. 14, my thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families. I am pleased that the state of Connecticut is contributing to the effort to help Newtown heal and rebuild.”

The legislature enacted a measure earlier this month to modify the state’s Freedom of Information Act to block the release of certain crime scene photos and videos held in evidence since the shooting.

Citing concerns that such materials could be widely released via the Internet, lawmakers voted to exempt from disclosure images of a homicide victim, either from the Newtown shooting or other horrific events, if the images could reasonably be expected to constitute an invasion of the victim’s family members’ privacy.

The bond commission is scheduled to meet June 21 at 10:30 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building.