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Monday, September 08, 2014

“Teaching is a Performance—You’re Always on Stage’ Image
Lisa Almeida, Westport 2015 Teacher of the Year, a Spanish teacher at Coleytown Middle School, tonight addresses the Board of Education, which honored her and all nominees at its meeting. “Every day is an adventure and I love it,” she said. “Teaching is a performance. You’re always on stage.” Looking on are (l-r)  John Dodig, Staples principal, Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon, Kris Szabo, Coleytown Middle School principal, and Marge Cion, the schools’ director of human resources. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:26 PM
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Top Westport Teachers Honored Image
The Westport Board of Education tonight honored Westport’s 2015 Teacher of the Year nominees during its meeting at Staples High School. Lisa Almeida (c., green dress), a Spanish teacher at Coleytown Middle School, as was previously announced, was selected for the honor. Joining her were (l-r) Eric Lawrence and Meg Stone (Saugatuck Elementary), Christina Zadravec (Coleytown Middle), Rick Quiricone (Bedford Middle), Almeida, Enia Noonan, Anne Fernandez, and Joel Kabak (Staples High School.)  Unavailable to attend were nominees Jennifer Benson (Kings Highway School), Michelle DeCarlo (Greens Farms School), and Kerry Jean Douglas (Bedford Middle School) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:21 PM
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Landon Didn’t Tell School Board ‘Magnitude’ of Overrun

By James Lomuscio

Contrary to a report from the town’s internal auditor, Westport’s Board of Education chairwoman insists her board did inform Board of Finance members two years ago about cost overruns for the mold removal project at Kings Highway Elementary School. Image
Elaine Whitney: Board of Education “is very concerned.” Dave Matlow for

It’s just that the school board had been kept in the dark about the amount of these overruns—$1.65 million—by Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, says Elaine Whitney, board chairwoman.

“The Board of Education is very concerned that the administration did not disclose the magnitude of the cost overruns to the BOE, the BOF, the RTM (Representative Town Meeting) or the public in a timely and transparent manner,” Whitney said in an email to WestportNow.

According to Lynn Scully, internal auditor, more than $4.52 million was spent on the project that ran from 2007 though fiscal year 2013-14, but only $2.87 million had been approved—a $1.65 million overrun the schools managed via transfers within its own budget.

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Posted 02:59 PM
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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Landon Grilled on $1.65 Million Cost Overrun

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Board of Finance took the Board of Education to task tonight over an internal auditor’s report showing the schools spent an additional $1.65 million for a mold clean up project at the Kings Highway Elementary School without informing the town’s funding bodies. Image
Flashback to 2007: : Gavin Anderson, who died in 2012, and then First Selectman Gordon Joseloff survey the Kings Highway Elementary School gym where mold was found. Joseloff appointed Anderson to head a panel investigating air quality at the school. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

According to Lynn Scully, internal auditor, more than $4.52 million was spent on the project that ran from 2007 though fiscal year 2013-14, but only $2.87 million had been approved—a $1.65 million overrun the schools managed via transfers within its own budget.

The overrun was due to the fact lead was found in the school, requiring the hiring of a lead abatement contractor, plus arbitration and legal fees, Scully said. She explained the schools transferred the cost increases from its electricity and natural gas accounts to its building maintenance account.

“There was no communication with the town regarding these capital expenditures,” Scully said.

More "Landon Grilled on $1.65 Million Cost Overrun"

Posted 11:37 PM
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Daily Beast: Staples Ranked No. 20 in Northeast

The Daily Beast online website has ranked Westport’s Staples High School as No. 20 in its list of the best high schools in the Northeast and No. 69 nationally.

“We used six indicators culled from school surveys to compare public high schools in the U.S., with graduation and college acceptance rates weighed most heavily,” it said in explaining the rankings.

“Other criteria included: college-level courses and exams, percentage of students with free or reduced lunch, as well as SAT and ACT scores - another mark of how well a school prepares students for college.”

Daily Beast said Staples has an overall rank of 69 in its survey of more than 700 schools.

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Posted 03:26 PM
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Monday, August 25, 2014

New School Year, New Locks and Security Measures

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Board of Education tonight unanimously approved asking the Board of Finance for $750,000 to equip key public school personnel with special radios for instant police communication in the event of a security breach or possible attack. Image
First floor windows of all Westport public schools now have a thin protective security layer held in place by a black seal. This is a window at Staples High School tonight where the Board of Education met. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

“With this system it’s instantaneous,” said Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, noting that currently teachers and administrators would have to dial 911 in the event of an internal or external attack. “We save 15 to 30 seconds. We have time we never had before.”

Buying time appears to me the focus of the school board’s security measures now entering the next phase, communication.

Over the summer, Landon noted, the school system installed 1,425 high security interior door locks costing $200,000, as well as installing to the tune of $500,000 clear 3M film on each school’s first floor windows and doors to slow down access for those who would do harm to children.

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Posted 11:14 PM
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First Day Memories

Scenes as Westport students returned to school today after summer vacation. The school population is about 5,700, according to Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon, and 44 teachers are new to the system. Dave Matlow for

Posted 10:17 AM
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Greeting Students at Staples Image
Staples High School Principal John Dodig today talks with Andrew Ippolito, 17, a senior at Staples High School who showed up on the first day of school wearing a graduation cap. Dodig later conducted an orientation session with each of the four classes starting with the Class of 2015.  Of his session with 480 seniors, he said, “The students were so quiet and attentive I could have heard a pin drop. To me that’s a measure of the respect between students and staff.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:45 AM
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New Name, Same School Image
Janna Bell Sirowich, starting her fifth year as principal of Coleytown Elementary School, today welcomes first day students. Sirowich said she has a new last name this year because she was married in April. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:31 AM
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Hurry Up and Wait Image
Saugatuck Elementary students today wait for the entrance doors to open at 7:45 a.m. A volunteer said the buses arrived a few minutes earlier than expected. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:19 AM
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All Smiles on First Day of School Image
Carolyn Cassell, 12, smiles as she boards the bus today to Bedford Middle School where she is in the seventh grade. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:12 AM
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New Principal at Saugatuck Greets Students Image
The new principal of Saugatuck Elementary School, Beth Messler, greets children as they arrive for the first day of school today.  Messler was formerly assistant principal at Coleytown Elementary School. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:09 AM
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Off to Coleytown Middle Image
Coleytown Middle School students—and friend—wait for the school bus today on Half Mile Common on the first day of school. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dawn Shmaruk for

Posted 08:45 AM
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School Bus Schedules

With Westport public schools opening today, the school office released the following bus schedules and memo for parents:

(Click on links)
Transportation Information
Greens Farms Elementary
Kings Highway Elementary
Long Lots Elementary
Saugatuck Elementary
Coleytown Elementary
Bedford Middle School
Coleytown Middle School
Staples High School

Posted 12:20 AM
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CMS Spanish Teacher Named 2015 Teacher of Year

By Dave Matlow

Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon today marked the official opening of the 2014-2105 school year by welcoming an overflow crowd at the annual teacher orientation in the Bedford Middle School auditorium and introducing the 2015 Teacher of the Year. Image
Lisa Almeida, a Spanish teacher at Coleytown Middle School, was selected as the Teacher of the Year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Lisa Almeida, a Spanish teacher at Coleytown Middle School, was selected as the Teacher of the Year.

Other nominees were announced as Megan Stone and Eric Lawrence, Saugatuck; Jennifer Benson, Kings Highway; Michelle DeCarlo, Greens Farms; Kerry Jean Douglas, Bedford; Anne Fernandez, Joel Kabak and Enia Noonan, Staples, and Rick Quiricone and Christina Zadravec, Coleytown Middle.

Landon’s welcome message included introductions to 44 new teachers—“the most new hires that we have had since 2008”—two new administrators as well as recognition of 25-year school veterans Enia Noonan at Staples, Ellen Zunick at King’s Highway, and Janice Price at Staples.

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Posted 04:05 PM
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