Friday, December 06, 2013
Schools Above State’s Standardized Test Target
The Westport Public Schools performed above the state’s “ultimate target” on the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Tests (CAPTs), according to a report released by the state Department of Education.
The report, “Connecticut 2012-13 School Classifications,” examines 1,300 public schools based on test scores and graduation rates as outlined by the state Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Westport’s district performance index (DPI) was 93.9 for the CMTs and 93.3 for the CAPTs, indices above the state’s goal of 88 on both tests.
The state used a five-tier classification of schools: excelling, in which 25 percent of the students who scored about the state goal were considered advanced; progressing, schools that reached the state goal and above; transitioning, where the student performance index (SPI) was between 64 and 87; review, schools with an SPI below 64; and focus, considered the lowest performing schools in the state.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
In Middle Schools, STEM Picks up Steam
By James Lomuscio
Launched in the sixth grade this year, the Westport school system’s STEM program aimed at fostering hands-on creativity in science, technology engineering and math, thus the acronym, will be expanded to the seventh and eighth grades at Coleytown and Bedford Middle schools next year.
Elaine Whitney: “A major positive step forward.” Contributed photo
After hours of discussion and public input over the past several weeks, the Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to expand STEM, making it available one day a week in the sixth and seventh grades and two days a week in the eighth.
The decision, however, has not been without concerns from some since it will mean a 20 percent reduction in presentation/drama time, from 90 hours to 72, over the three years of middle school.
Still, to hear board members tell it, presentation skills being incorporated across the curriculum can easily be part of STEM.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Ed Board Reminds of Vacancy
The Westport Board of Education reminded residents today that it is seeking candidates to apply by noon Wednesday to fill a board vacancy caused when Republican Jennifer Tooker stepped down to run for and be elected to the Board of Finance.
The successful candidate will serve on the school board from the date of appointment until the next election scheduled for November 2015, according to Michael Gordon, board secretary who is accepting applications.
Gordon said that individuals interested in being considered for appointment must be: a registered Republican; willing to be interviewed by both the Board of Education and the Republican Town Committee; available for an interview the evenings of Monday, Dec. 9 and/or Sunday Dec. 15; and willing to serve and attend school board meetings immediately upon his or her appointment Monday Dec. 16.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
End of Annual ‘Penny War’
Eighth grade students at Westport’s Bedford Middle School have just ended the 10th annual Penny War” to support the annual holiday appeal by the Westport Department of Human Services. Students in three teams collected pennies to set a school record of $9,721.51. The McCabe Team was declared the winner. Students and teachers thanked the Bedford PTA for its support in transporting the money to be counted at local banks. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Monday, November 25, 2013
Whitney Re-Elected Board of Ed Chair
The Westport Board of Education tonight unanimously re-elected Democrat Elaine Whitney as its chair and elected Republican Jeannie Smith as vice-chair. Both won election on Nov. 5.
Elaine Whitney: re-elected unanimously. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
“I am honored and humbled by the confidence shown in me,” said Whitney, who pledged to maintain the board’s nonpartisanship as demonstrated by electing a Republican vice chair.
Whitney has served as board chair since November 2012 when she took over from then acting vice chair Republican Jim Marpe who succeeded Democrat Don O’Day when he resigned in October 2012. Marpe resigned to run for first selectman and was elected earlier this month.
Whitney, who holds an undergraduate degree from Yale and an MBA from Northwestern University, was co-president of the Long Lots Elementary School PTA until appointed to the board in January 2009. She succeeded Marjorie Cion, a Democrat, who resigned.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
More Middle Schoolers Win at Robotics Meet
UPDATE For the first time, the Coleytown/Bedford Middle School Robotics Club sponsored two middle school teams to compete in the First Lego League (FLL) International Robotics Competition.
The Mechnical Masterminds (l-r) Sunil Green, David Oestreicher (teacher), Daniel Westphal, Josh Zhang, Justin Schmidt (back), Nick Durkin, John McNab, Dan Cortright (teacher), Rob Diorio, Nick Ambrose, Andy Zheng, and Kim Matarese (teacher). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
The Mechanical Masterminds and The Inventors of Pie both competed Saturday in the Greenwich qualifying tournament for the FLL at Greenwich Academy and each took home top honors. In addition, the Mechanical Masterminds advanced to the Connecticut State final.
The Mechanical Masterminds won the Robot Performance Award and the Research and Presentation Award. The Inventors of Pie won the Robotics Design Award.
In addition, Team SNAP, a privately organized and funded team of five Coleytown Middle Schoolers, also advanced to the state final in a competition in Shelton, winning the second place Championship Award and the Robot Performance Award. (See WestportNow Nov. 24, 2013)
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Bedford Meeting Highlights Education Mandates
More than100 persons gathered at the Bedford Middle School auditorium tonight for a public meeting that encouraged comments on state mandates that may be detrimental to teaching and learning in Connecticut’s public schools. State Rep Gail Lavielle, (R-143) who represents Westport, Norwalk, and Wilton and is a member of the task force created by the state legislature to identify areas where schools should seek relief from state mandates, organized and led the meeting. She stressed that the process is “truly bipartisan” as she prepares a legislative proposal for the 2014 session which opens during the first week of February. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
State Rep. Gail Lavielle (l) (R-143) was joined by Colleen Palmer, superintendent of the Weston Public Schools, as she led tonight’s discussion at Bedford Middle School about mandates impacting Connecticut schools. Both are members of a legislative task force studying the issue. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Landon Urges Mandate Reforms
Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon told a meeting at Bedford Middle School tonight on state mandates impacting education that mandates in special education and educator evaluation should be reduced, eliminated, or modified. This would enable Westport educators to serve children in the Westport school system in the most effective manner possible, he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Singapore Students Set to ‘Learn the Real United States’
By James Lomuscio
Up until today, 16-year-old Tian Huang said his only exposure to the United States was what he had gleaned from movies and books.
Singapore student Tian Huang (2nd l), 16, is greeted at Staples High School today by Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, (l) and his host family, the Kaners, from whom Tian said he hopes to learn about “the real United States.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for WestportNow.com
But after a 23-hour flight from Singapore, the student from the Hwa Chong Institution seemed eager to learn American culture first hand.
“I hope to learn more about the United States and its educational system, and to learn about the real United States and how it works,” Tian said outside of Staples High School.
Staples is where Tian met with his host family, Avi and Liz Kaner and their sons Jack, a Staples sophomore, and Jonathan, who is in the eighth grade at Bedford Middle School.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
PTA Hosts Ed Board Candidates’ Debate
By James Lomuscio
School security, bus delays making children late for school, the common core, even the lack of racial diversity among teachers were among the topics the Democratic and Republican candidates for the Westport Board of Education discussed today at a public forum.
Board of Education candidates taking part included (l-r) Elaine Whitney, Brett Aronow, Jeanie Smith, Karen Kleine and Michael McGovern. Dianne Wildman was moderator. James Lomuscio for WestportNow.com
The occasion was a standing-room-only, PTA Council-sponsored event moderated by television journalist Dianne Wildman in The Westport Library’s McManus Room.
Wildman, a Westporter and former Cablevsion executive producer and NBC News correspondent, said at the outset that she wanted the candidates to mix it up and quipped about bloodletting.
But the Republicans Michael McGovern and Jeannie Smith, both incumbents, and newcomer Karen Kleine, as well as the Democrats, Elaine Whitney, board chairwoman, and board member Brett Aronow, remained cordial throughout.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Westport Arts Center Aids Homeless Vets in Bridgeport
By Roy Fuchs
Homeless veterans in Bridgeport are receiving art instruction thanks to the Westport Arts Center (WAC).
Danielle Ogden, education director at the Westport Arts Center, described the Center’s Gives Back programs to today’s meeting of the Y’s Men of Westport Weston. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com
The program at Bridgeport’s Homes for the Brave is one of four therapeutic art programs that are part of the WAC Gives Back education initiative, Danielle Ogden, WAC’s director of education, told today’s weekly meeting of the Y’s Men of Westport Weston at Westport’s Unitarian Church.
The other current ones involve seniors, cancer patients and children with disabilities, she said.
At Homes for the Brave, 55 formerly homeless men are working to “get their lives back on track and become contributing members of society,” Ogden said.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
BOE Candidates Face Off, Cordially
By James Lomuscio
Candidates for Westport’s Board of Education answered questions tonight about fluctuating student enrollments, effective anti-bullying measures, curriculum changes and finding a less costly way to park school buses in town.
Board of Education candidates debating tonight included (l-r) Karen Kleine (Republican); Brett Aronow (Democrat), Jeannie Smith (Republican), Elaine Whitney (Democrat), and Michael McGovern (Republican). All but Kleine are incumbents. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
The occasion was at a League of Women Voters (LVW) and Y’s Women co-sponsored debate held in Town Hall.
It was the first of a triple-header as Republican and Democratic candidates for the school board, Board of Finance and Judge of Probate fielded questions from Charlotte Garrell of the New York City LWV.
The Democratic school board candidates are Elaine Whitney, current board chairwoman, and board member Brett Aronow. On the Republican side are Michael McGovern, board vice chairman, board member Jeannie Smith and newcomer Karen Kleine.
Saturday, October 05, 2013
Coleytown El Teacher Wins $56,850 on ‘Wheel of Fortune’
Westport Coleytown Elementary School physical education teacher Chris Scholz celebrates with wife Kelly after winning $56,850 on television’s “Wheel of Fortune” in an episode aired this week. Scholz taped the session in July and was sworn to secrecy until the show was shown. He said the money will come in handy as he hopes to move from a rented home in Fairfield and buy a house. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo from Wheel of Fortune
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Ed Board Vice Chair Criticizes School Security Progress
By James Lomuscio
UPDATE (adds clarification of McGovern remarks, Whitney comment) Michael McGovern, the Board of Education’s vice chairman, told the Board of Finance Wednesday night that as a parent and citizen he was disappointed with the slow progress the school system and the town have made in working toward a comprehensive school security plan.
Michael McGovern: “it’s taken too long.” Contributed photo
“I’m pleased we’re at point of where we’re actually getting proposals and RFPs (requests for proposals) and moving forward, but we have to recognize that it’s taken too long for what are really kind of common sense suggestions to be made, to be implemented,” McGovern said.
“By the time we turn a screwdriver in the schools, we will unfortunately see the one year anniversary of the attacks at Sandy Hook,” he added.
Several months ago the finance board approved $100,000 to hire Kroll Security Advisors to perform a security audit of the town’s schools. The approval stipulated that the town’s police and fire departments be involved in the process.
Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport