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Friday, February 27, 2015

National Merit Scholarship Finalists Announced Image
Ten Staples High School seniors have been named finalists in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program. Each will have a chance to earn one of 8,000 National Merit Scholarship awards, together worth more than $35 million.  Final scholarship winners, chosen from a group of more than 15,000 finalists, may be notified as early as March. “Having 10 National Merit Finalists and the fact that all nine semi-finalists became finalists is a visible sign that we have an outstanding student body,” said Staples Principal John Dodig. Pictured are (front row, l-r)  Shelby E. Cataldo and Zachary N. Effman; (back row) Abigail G. Lustig, Megan R. Root, Everett W. Sussman, Kelly W. Pogue, Nicholas D. Massoud, Ian Cole Palmer,  and Jake A. Atlas. Missing from the picture: Claudia Frances Landowne. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 02:48 PM
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Again, Landon Tops School, State Pay List Image
Elliott Landon: earned $292,937 last year. Dave Matlow for
(2014 Public School Earners [PDF])
Once again, Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon topped the list of the highest paid employees in the Westport Public Schools, according to the 2014 list of the 50 highest paid school employees released today.

Landon, who earned $292,937.08 for the calendar year, is also the highest paid schools superintendent in Connecticut. His figures do not include other benefits provided in his annual contract.

School Business Administrator Elio Longo, who released the list after several requests, came in second highest for the district with an annual salary of $192,692.

Of the top 10, Staples High School Principal John Dodig, who will be retiring at the end of the current school year, ranked third highest paid with annual pay of $183,394.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Karyn Morgan Named H.S. Assistant Principal of Year

The Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) today announced that Karyn Morgan, assistant principal of Staples High School, has been named the 2015 High School Assistant Principal of the Year. Image
Karyn Morgan:  “overwhelmed by this award.” Lynn U. Miller for

Nominated for the award by fellow Staples Assistant Principal Rich Franzis, Morgan “is known for her unsparing personal and professional investment in her school and her single-minded drive to ensure success for every child in her care,” an announcement said.

It quoted Staples parent Janine Bassin as saying: “Karyn has a deep and unwavering dedication to facilitate the best possible high school experience and outcome for each and every one of her students.”

“I am overwhelmed and completely humbled by this award,” Morgan said, according to the news release. “I share this honor with the entire Westport community; a community of individuals who believe in the ideals of education. This honor could not have happened without their support and I will be forever grateful.”

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Monday, February 09, 2015

BOF Approves School Emergency Communications Funds

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Board of Finance by a vote of 6 to 0 with 1 abstention tonight approved a request by Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon for $743,114 from the General Fund for mass communication and two-way radios as added security measures in all eight schools. Image
School security issues were discussed by Board of Finance and school officials tonight with input from the police and fire departments. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Elio Longo, school business administrator, said the appropriation would be offset by two state grants making the net cost to the town $601,772.

Finance board member Tom Lasersohn abstained, saying he was torn as a father who wanted his children to be safe in school and as a Board of Finance member who, being responsible to the taxpayer, wanted more data.

Others, however, said they were convinced by police and fire officials who spoke at the meeting in support of the appropriation.

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Posted 11:06 PM
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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

School Board Approves $111.47 Million 2015-16 Budget

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE (clarifies increase percentage) The Westport Board of Education tonight unanimously approved a $111,471,756 operating budget for 2015-16 academic year, a 2.08 percent increase over the current budget.

The school board approved budget’s next stop is the Board of Finance

While it was lower that the 3.75 percent increase that Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon had originally proposed, it was still higher than what Landon had hoped for at the meeting’s start.

Landon wanted to separate the school system’s capital expenses from its operating budget, the same way town government does—a move would have lowered budget by about $400,000 resulting in just a 1.93 percent increase, he said.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Landon Seeks Survey Input for Dodig Replacement

In looking for a replacement for Staples High School Principal John Dodig, Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon is soliciting parent, student, staff and community input via an online survey open through Sunday, Feb. 8. Image
John Dodig: announced retirement in December. Dave Matlow for

“In order to assist our administration in attracting the most highly qualified candidates for this position, we would like your input,” the survey states. “Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. Your participation will help to ensure that we find the best candidate for this important position.”

Dodig, 70, has been principal at Staples since 2004 and had been described by Landon as having “a monumentally positive impact upon students, parents, staff.” He announced his retirement in December. (See WestportNow Dec. 1, 2014)

The seven-part survey, available here, poses myriad questions ranging from “critically-needed personal characteristics and background experiences” to leadership challenges at Staples to the school’s selling points for attracting the best candidate to any additional input offered that the administration might find helpful.

Posted 05:57 PM
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Monday, February 02, 2015

Westport Schools on Two-Hour Delay on Tuesday

Westport public schools will be on a two-hour delay on Tuesday.

Stepping Stones preschool will not have a morning session.

Posted 08:15 PM
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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bedford Middle Schoolers Tops in Science Olympiad Image
Bedford Middle School students celebrate as Bedford won a first place award at today’s Science Olympiad invitationals held at the school. Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 team events in each division with participants competing in genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. The culmination of nearly 300 regional and state tournaments is the Science Olympiad National Tournament, held at a different university each year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 06:48 PM
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Landon Proposes $1.5 Million Budget Cut

By James Lomuscio

Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon tonight appeared to pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, proposing a $1.5 million reduction in his announced 2015-16 budget of $113,294,493. It lowered the 3.75 percent increase over this year’s operating budget to 2.34 percent. Image
Elliott Landon: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Dave Matlow for

Landon told the Board of Education the cut could be gleaned from myriad areas. They included: $150,000 in workers compensation savings; removing capital projects from the operating budget, just at the town does, to save $390,000; high paid employee retirements and lower pay replacements; fund transfer, and substantial insurance savings.

In making the amendment to his proposed budget, Landon noted that Brian Stern, finance board vice chairman, told him that a “2.5 to 2.9 percent increase was as acceptable range for the Board of Finance,” the body the budget goes to following school board approval.

Michael Gordon, school board chairman, seemed thrilled. He thanked Landon, Elio Long, school business administrator, and Marge Cion, the school system’s director of human resources, “for sharpening your pencils.” He said the proposed cuts would put the budget where the finance board members “have said we should be,” without compromising programs for students.

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Posted 10:53 PM
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Getting Ready for Wednesday School Reopening Image
Workers clear sidewalks at Saugatuck Elementary School on Riverside Avenue today in advance of Wednesday’s reopening of Westport schools. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 05:13 PM
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saugatuck Students Raise Funds for Tanzania School Image
Ben Berkley (l) and JT Shapiro of Saugatuck Elementary School’s Caring Council have their change counted at the TD Bank on Westport’s Main Street after a month-long effort to raise funds for the tuition of two students at the Secondary Education for Girls’ Advancement (SEGA) School in Tanzania. The goal was $2,000 but when the 240 pounds of loose change and bills were counted, they had raised $3,414. Led by Ashley Moran, SES workshop and math support teacher, Rae Anne Locke, library media specialist, and Katie Bloom, second grade teacher, the Caring Council went classroom to classroom to raise awareness for SEGA and the fundraising drive. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 03:49 PM
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Westporter to Be Himes Guest at State of Union

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes announced today that David L. Levinson of Westport, president of Norwalk Community College (NCC), will be his guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Image
David Levinson: applauds Obama proposal. Dave Matlow for

During an event today at NCC, Himes and Levinson voiced support for Obama’s new proposal to make the first two years of community college free for qualifying students.

“Dr. Levinson is one of Connecticut’s leading advocates for making college more affordable and accessible for all Americans, and I’m honored to have him join me at this year’s State of the Union address,” Himes said.

“America’s economic success and the strength of our middle class depend on a well-educated and well-trained workforce. If we want our nation to remain competitive, we must make college - including community colleges and vocational schools - more affordable.

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Posted 05:22 PM
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Study Time at Library Image
Staples High School juniors studied in the Westport Library’s Great Hall today for Thursday’s government mid-term exam. They are (l-r) Caroline Lane, Jojo Adler and Kristin Munley. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 05:49 PM
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Norwalk to Assume Some of Westport’s Continuing Ed Programs

The Westport Board of Education voted Tuesday night to have the Norwalk Public School system assume responsibility for state-mandated programs under its Continuing Education program beginning with the start of the 2015-16 school year.

The decision will have the effect of reducing the school district’s per student costs for the programs. These include English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) as well as those addressing basic literacy needs, and teach the necessary skills to transition to higher education, training or employment.

While the Westport programs serve very few adults, the Norwalk Continuing Education program is geared to serve larger numbers more efficiently, according to board members.

Additionally, while Westport’s programs are offered only a few nights during the week, the Norwalk Continuing Education program serves adults six days and evenings per week, including Saturdays.

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Posted 08:59 AM
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cookies to Fuel Exam Takers at Staples Image
During midterm exams at Staples High School, the Guidance Department this week is handing out complimentary cookies, milk and motivational messages for students to “de-stress” while taking midterms. One guidance counselor, Victoria Capozzi, could be heard with a megaphone pulling kids in for cookies and wishing all “good luck!” The cookies have been a tradition for midterms and finals week at Staples. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for

Posted 08:55 AM
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