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New school pushed at scene of shooting in Newtown, Conn.

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 6:09 p.m.
A new building at the site of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., could be open for students as soon as January 2016.

NEWTOWN, Conn. — A task force of elected officials on Friday recommended tearing down the elementary school where 20 first-graders and six educators were shot dead in December and rebuilding on the site.

The group of 28 Newtown elected officials voted unanimously in favor of a plan that would construct a building on the property where the existing Sandy Hook Elementary School is located. The proposal now goes to the local school board and then before voters as a referendum.

Parent Daniel Krauss, whose daughter is a second-grader, said he was pleased by the panel's recommendation.

“It's been a place for learning, for kids to grow up, and it's going to go back to that,” Krauss said.

The panel had narrowed a list of choices to renovating or rebuilding on the school site or building a school on property down the street. A study found building a school on the existing site would cost $57 million.

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

If all goes well, officials said, construction could begin in the spring and the new building could open in January 2016.

Sandy Hook Elementary School has not housed students since the killings. Some town residents said the school should be torn down because they couldn't imagine sending children back there. Others favored renovating the school, with some saying that tearing it down would be a victory for evil.

Laura Roche, a member of the Sandy Hook School Task Force, said it's been “very emotional and very hard” to come to a decision about the school's future. But she was pleased by the unanimous vote — a signal the panel was united.

“We came together as 28, and I hope we can come together as a community to rebuild the spirit of our community and build the school together,” Roche said.

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