In a unanimous vote, a taskforce of local leaders in Newtown, Conn. decided on Friday to knock down Sandy Hook Elementary School and build a new school in its place.
The decision came after months in which the 28-person task force considered 40 different sites on which to build a school, settling on the original site both for its convenient location and for the symbolic triumph over tragedy it provides. The new school will cost between $42 million and $47 million to construct, a cost that the state and federal governments are expected to pick up.
Though everyone who testified in Friday’s meeting spoke in favor of the final recommendations, some parents expressed discomfort at the idea of building a new school where the old one once stood.
“To me, that is always going to be a site where 26 people were murdered,”one panel member, Laura Roche, told The New York Times.
But Roche voted on Friday in favor of building on the original site as the best option available to the taskforce.
The recommendation would preclude the possibility of converting the old elementary school into a memorial site, as in several previous instances. At Columbine High School, where two teenagers gunned down 12 students in 1999 and injured 24 others, the library – where most of the victims had been slaughtered – was converted into an atrium. At Virginia Tech, the classroom building where a gunman killed 32 people in 2007 was converted into a peace studies and violence prevention center.
The taskforce’s recommendation will now go to the local school board and will need to earn the support of local residents, who will vote on the proposal in a referendum.