Pear Tree Point School: District will not buy property

Pear Tree Point School will  be closing at the end of this school year. With the closure comes questions about what will happen with the space. At the Oct. 10 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Dan Brenner addressed some speculation about the possibility of the district buying the space.

Brenner said that when he first started hearing from residents about the possibility, he had not yet even heard that Pear Tree Point would be available.

“We have taken a look because a number of residents have approached me and said did you know, and the truth is i didn’t know,” Brenner said.

Ultimately, the decision was made that it simply did not make sense for the district to consider purchasing the space.

“After exploration and visiting the site, and looking at it in the context of the master plan, it becomes clear to me that the site for the school, while in pristine condition and a great facility, does not fit in the context of what we’ve talked about,” Brenner said.

Brenner said that it might appear initially to be an attractive prospective. The facilities at Pear Tree Point are in outstanding condition. However, a great deal of changes would have to happen for the school to make sense as a home for any Darien district programs, such as the Early Learning Program or the new alternative high school program, Fitch Academy. Pear Tree Point has no cafeteria and the classrooms are very small. Brenner also said the price point was not something school officials were comfortable with, although he did not mention a specific dollar amount.

“The price point doesn’t seem to fit, certainly in the context of the uncertainty in Hartford,” Brenner said. Cuts have already been made to municipal aid, including education funding, as the state is without a budget and Governor Dan Malloy is currently running the state finances via executive order.

Fitch Academy, the alternative education program at DHS is still in need of a location for the future, as it’s current home at the Darien Library is only for this pilot year. Early data suggests that Fitch is off to a strong start, and the roster of students could grow from 12 to 24 next year. Brenner has said administrators are current looking for a new space, while also facing budget uncertainties at the state level which will certainly impact the education budget in Darien.