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Monday, August 24, 2015

Already Overcrowded, Staples Enrollment at 1,900

(Editor’s note: The headline and original story have been clarified to say that this year’s Staples enrollment is 1,900, 100 over capacity, a situation that has existed for several years but this is highest in recent years.)

By James Lomuscio

WestportNow.com Image
Elliott Landon: “We’re packing them in (at Staples).” Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
UPDATE The highest Staples enrollment in recent years—1,900, which is 100 over capacity—decreasing student populations in the early grades, and nine new administrators set the stage for the 2015-16 school year that beings Thursday, Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon said today.

“We’re going to have to take a hard look at the increased enrollment at Staples,” said Landon, who has announced his retirement at the end of this school year after 17 years. He said that he has several proposals to address the issue, but declined to release them yet.

“We’re packing them in,” he added. “We’re at 1,900, and it was built for 1,800, even though when was being built, we had asked for enough space for 2,000. We’re using closets, we took away meeting rooms, a classroom in the library.” 

Landon is convinced that the Staples student population, which has been more than 1,800 at least going back to 2012 and is 45 more than last year, will continue to swell, eventually surpassing 2,000.

“Based on what’s happening, it’s continuing to grow,” he said. “People are coming in with older kids, and people are forgoing private schools because our schools are so good.”

Conversely, he said the lower grades are showing declines as fewer families with young children have the financial ability to buy homes in Westport.

Ergo, the town is witnessing an initial population decline that abates as grades rise, eventually increasing in high school grades “as families become more settled,” said Landon.

“That’s my opinion,” he said.

Landon presides over his last year with the appointment of nine new administrators, two of them interim.

Mark Karagus, former principal at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, has been appointed interim principal at Staples for one year while a search continues to replace John Dodig.

Joanne Vale has been selected as a one-year, interim principal at Kings Highway Elementary School, filling in for Susie DaSilva, who left to become assistant superintendent of instruction in Darien.

John Bayers, former principal at Green’s Farms Elementary School, is now director of human resources, replacing Marge Cion, who left for a similar position with the Darien Public Schools.

Other appointments seem like musical chairs within the district.

Ryan Betts has been named assistant principal at the Saugatuck Elementary School, replacing Jeffrey Golubchick, who is now principal of Long Lots Elementary School. Molly Farrell is the new assistant principal at Long Lots.

Meanwhile, Kevin Cazzetta, who had served as assistant principal at Greens Farms prior to taking a principal’s post in Simsbury, has returned as Greens Farms’ new principal.

In addition, Andrew Hill has been appointed the new math department chairman for grades 6 through 12.

Westport also has a new director of continuing education, Ellen Israel.


Posted 08/24/15 at 07:51 PM


Comment Policy

How did no one see this coming? What was the population of Staples when the (very expensive and time consuming) new school was being proposed? Closets? “Packing them in”?? What an absolute joke.

Posted by Bob Chandler on August 24, 2015 at 08:33 PM | #

It would be helpful to get more facts than to just hear from Dr Landon we all of a sudden found 100 more students going to Staples. Are they all 9th graders?  Did we know how many more 8th graders were in our system versus the year before?  Do we know how many are in 7th and 6th so we get ahead of this?  Did 50 families just move into town with 2 high school age children that surprised us?  How many left 8th grade that we lost to private schools and now the ‘average’ is less?  Really?

Maybe the next leader will give this Reader more confidence or can we can see statistics that back up the notion that this is all a surprise.

Posted by Bart Shuldman on August 24, 2015 at 08:42 PM | #

Bart is absolutely right. If I were a Staples parent I’d want some answers, especially after our Superintendent issues a statement as if he were a Shephard ‘herding cattle’ ....not at the helm of our towns School system.

Posted by Bob Chandler on August 24, 2015 at 08:54 PM | #

3 days before school starts and we now hear Staples will be crowded. And then we read there are options but Dr Landon does not want to disclose them.

Posted by Bart Shuldman on August 24, 2015 at 09:11 PM | #

trial balloon for more $$$$ ?

Posted by Michael Calise on August 25, 2015 at 11:44 AM | #

Staples is not getting 100 new students.  Last year’s enrollment, according to the October 2014 figures published with the budget on the BOE website, was at 1855 (already 55 over the “max”).  If you swap last year’s senior class (463) with last year’s eighth grade class (489), the enrollment at Staples would be expected to be 1881 this year.  I’m not sure if 1900 is an actual number or hyperbole, but we all should have expected enrollment to be close to that number this year without any new high school aged students entering the system.

Posted by Kerry Foley on August 25, 2015 at 11:46 AM | #

Kerry—thanks for posting the numbers—-or what I would call the truth—which now raises questions about Dr. Landon once again.  Either WestportNow is misrepresenting what he said, or another game is going on.  Appears the enrollment is not much more than last year, and we clearly should have known there would be more entering Staples on Thursday. 

I guess the good news is Dr. Landon will finish the year and then we are done.  Hopefully we can add to the job description for the new Superintendent honesty and openness.  The residents of Westport should expect at least a 3 year look-out so we know if any issue, either higher or lower enrollment, is in front of us. And not see it in WestportNow a few days before school starts.  I wonder what does 2017 and 2018 look like?

If there is a long term issue, this should have been discussed last year as we knew the figures.  Reading that your numbers equate to 26 more students at Staples and comparing that to this news article sounds like posturing to me. 

This article is losing its impact but lets be careful that the budget is maintained.  Dr. Landon, as we know, spent money before, without telling the town.

Posted by Bart Shuldman on August 25, 2015 at 01:52 PM | #

This article makes the student population growth sound like it’s a new issue.  It’s not. This cohort of students breached the 1800 mark in 2011.

Posted by Kerry Foley on August 25, 2015 at 02:54 PM | #

Unbelievable. Will the BofE finally end this nonsense. You are elected and allowing a microphone to Dr Landon is doing this town no justice.

If we breached the 1800 4 years ago-then why cry ‘fire’?  How can anyone respect this?

Posted by Bart Shuldman on August 25, 2015 at 08:11 PM | #

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