Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Greens Farms Academy’s Head of School Janet Hartwell says she will retire from the Westport-based independent school in June 2018.
“These years at GFA have been so deeply rewarding for me, professionally and personally,” she was quoted as saying in a school news release. She is now in her 14th year at the PreK-12 co-ed day school on Beachside Avenue.
Last year’s graduating class named Hartwell as an honorary “lifer” — a term for students who attend the school from kindergarten through to 12th grade — having started with them back in 2003.
“One of the great joys of working with our students is to watch them grow and develop at GFA, finding their voices, passions, and their sense of self,” Hartwell said.
Monday, February 27, 2017
The Westport Public Schools will have “a more accessible user friendly domain name,” Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer announced at the Board of Education meeting tonight.
Palmer also took the opportunity to weigh in on gender identity issues that are at the forefront nationally and statewide as it pertains to transgender students.
“This district has always been a leader,” she said about its acceptance of students from diverse backgrounds. “...We are not changing any of our practices.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Long Lots Elementary School Interim Principal Michael Cicchetti and Assistant Principal Molly Farrell greet students today on the school’s morning show. Cicchetti replaced Jeffrey M. Golubchick, who last week was placed on “paid administrative leave without prejudice” for letters his attorney sent to some teachers and administrators. (See WestportNow Feb. 11, 2017) Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer tweeted this photo. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) @WestportSuper/Twitter photo
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The new interim principal of Westport’s Long Lots Elementary School, Michael Cicchetti, greets students today at a Valentine’s Day town meeting and all sing “Lion’s Spirit.” Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer tweeted this photo and added: “Great Valentine’s Day celebration.” Cicchetti replaced Jeffrey M. Golubchick who last week was placed on “paid administrative leave without prejudice” for letters his attorney sent to some teachers and administrators. (See WestportNow Feb. 11, 2017) @WestportSuper/Twitter.com photo
Saturday, February 11, 2017
UPDATE Long Lots Elementary School Principal Jeffrey M. Golubchick has been placed on “paid administrative leave without prejudice” because of letters his attorney sent to teachers and subordinate administrators “asserting legal claims against them,” Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said today.
Palmer’s late Saturday afternoon email explanation to parents followed one on Friday informing them of action against Golubchick, 36, who has been principal since July 1, 2015. He earlier served as assistant principal at Saugatuck Elementary.
After the Friday email, a Long Lots parent who asked to remain anonymous said Palmer’s “zero explanation to the community … has made many of the parents up in arms.”
“Today I am able to share some additional information which I believe will answer many of the questions that you may have regarding my initial communication to you yesterday,” Palmer said in her latest email.
Thursday, February 09, 2017
Westport public schools will be on a two-hour opening delay Friday due to post-storm cleanup.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Westport Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said Westport public schools will be closed Thursday due to the pending snowstorm.
Tuesday, February 07, 2017
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Republicans in the state House and Senate and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy both released proposals today to release stalled municipal aid that local officials hoped to receive this fiscal year.
And Republican leaders also said that their Democratic counterparts withdrew support at the last minute from a plan to restore education grants — and to close a small budget deficit as projected by nonpartisan analysts.
Democratic legislative leaders countered that the GOP plan still needed adjustments and that Republican leaders went “rushing into a news conference” rather than continuing bipartisan talks.
“We want to be bipartisan if that is an option,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby said during a late morning news conference in the Legislative Office Building. “We all could have been standing here today moving the state of Connecticut forward.”
Westport student winners of the 2016-2017 PTA Reflections Art Program were announced today.
The nationwide arts contest sponsored by the PTA provides students with the opportunity for artistic creative expression and positive recognition for their efforts.
Students are recognized each year for their artistic ingenuity that brings a student theme to life in a way that is personal and meaningful.
This year the theme “What is Your Story” lent itself to all six areas of creative interests including: dance choreography; film production; literature; musical composition; photography, and visual arts.
By Dave Matlow
Going from relative obscurity to an internationally known diversity group, TEAM Westport members met today for the first time since its white privilege essay notoriety to evaluate all the attention.
“We’ve received much good publicity lately,” said an understated Harold Bailey, Jr., the black, soft-spoken, ex-IBM executive who has been group’s chair since its founding in 2003. TEAM stands for Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism.
Bailey, who oversaw the committee-authored high school essay contest prompt on white privilege, noted in the Town Hall meeting that coverage of the essay, touched off by a Jan. 31 Associated Press story, had spread to the United Kingdom, China, and beyond. (See WestportNow Jan. 31, 2017)
“There’s been a media barrage of letters to Westport town officials, including comments that “the subject was racist,” he said.
Monday, February 06, 2017
By James Lomuscio
Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer said tonight that she would seek every avenue to continue Staples High School’s child development program, while honoring the service of long time, beloved teacher Linda McClary.
Palmer told a Board of Education meeting she had discovered in November after concerns from preschool parents that McClary, who for years has been synonymous with the program, is not certified to teach the course.
Palmer said she chose not to go public until she was assured that McClary’s retirement would be protected. She said she was concerned that a teacher who had taught in an area for which she was not certified would not gain points toward retirement benefits.
“I probably did not come out to the forefront and really talk about a lot of this publicly because I was very, very concerned about a loyal soldier in our school district who might have her retirement at risk,” she said.
By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
New Britain – Standing in the library of an elementary school that was at the center of a recent school-funding trial, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today released his plans for redistributing existing levels of state education aid in ways he said would help the most impoverished school districts.
“There will be a shift. There will absolutely be a shift,” Malloy, a Democrat, told reporters when releasing his plans at Smalley Academy. “We are failing children because their parents are poor.”
His plan overhauls the highly criticized Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula by changing how student poverty is determined and creating a grant pool of roughly $575 million to help towns pay for special education.
The new pool of money – for educating physically or developmentally disabled students – would be funded almost entirely by redirecting nearly one-quarter of the $2 billion in state dollars that currently go toward the ECS grant and all of the so-called Excess Cost grant, which helps school districts pay for services for severely disabled students.
Staples High School has announced its latest Students of the Month. The award program recognizes students who help make the school a welcoming place for their peers and teachers alike. They are nominated by their teachers, who are asked to select all-around good school citizens. Pictured: (back row, l-r) Kion Bruno, Donald Macaluso, Jack Beck, and Aidan Reilly; (middle row) Jack Nealon, Colin Willigan, Andie Pines, Celia Block, Anne Machata and Carrick Keenan; (front row) Conrad Mann and Valentina Rozo. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Saturday, February 04, 2017
By James Lomuscio
Westport will need an extra $5 to $6 million in its total budget for next year if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal to have towns pay one-third of teacher pensions becomes a reality, First Selectman Jim Marpe said today.
“The governor’s announcement comes as a real surprise, and it will require us to take a hard look at our budgets,” Marpe said. The state is scheduled to pay $17.6 million in 2018 for Westport teacher retirees.
The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on its proposed $115.35 million 2017-18 operating budget, a 2.44 percent increase, on Monday, and Marpe’s proposed $79 million municipal budget, a 1.29 percent decrease, is scheduled to be finalized in five to six weeks, he said.
While seemingly painless fiscal belt tightening has been de rigueur for the school board and the town due to the Board of Finance’s zero-based budgeting directive, Malloy’s proposal has thrown serious concern into the budget process, as an extra $5 to $6 million might have to be factored into the total town budget for 2017-18.
Friday, February 03, 2017
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today his proposed budget would shift $407.6 million, nearly one-third of the annual cost of municipal school teachers’ pensions, on to cities and towns — a move that would hit the state’s wealthiest communities the hardest.
Malloy also said the two-year budget he will present Wednesday to the General Assembly would propose eliminating the $200 property tax credit within the income-tax system, costing nearly 875,000 middle-class households as much as $105 million per year based on nonpartisan analysts’ estimates.
Unlike nearly all other state education aid, the state contribution to teacher pensions does not factor in a town’s wealth or local taxpayers’ ability to pick up some of the cost. It proportionately funnels the most aid to districts that can afford to hire more teachers and provide the highest salaries.
“At a time when state government is making difficult cuts to services, we can no longer exclude how we pay for teachers’ pensions from this conversation,” Malloy said.
Click HERE for more of story
Thursday, February 02, 2017
By Jacqueline Rabe Thomaswww.ctmirror.org
When educators were unable to help Susan Davis’s 8-year-old autistic son calm down at school, he was put into a 4- by 6-foot, custom-built box.
Davis and her husband were unaware their son was being regularly restrained and secluded until she visited his classroom so she could get a more complete picture of the education he was receiving.
“We had no idea that this was happening to my child. My son was never able to articulate any these events to us,” Davis, from north central Connecticut, told the state Board of Education today. “If we did not have access to observations, who knows how long this would have continued for.”
Seventy-one parents of special education students who have had limited or no access to their children’s classroom are begging the state Department of Education to remove barriers they say their local schools have put in place that effectively keep them — and outside experts they consult — from observing.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Due to the weather, the Westport Public Schools will be closing two hours early today.
All evening activities are canceled.
Staples High School will dismiss at 12:15 p.m. Bedford Middle, Coleytown Middle, and Saugatuck Elementary Schools will dismiss at 12:45 p.m. Coleytown Elementary, Greens Farms, Kings Highway, and Long Lots Schools will dismiss at 1:15 p.m.
For Stepping Stones information, please refer to the standard early dismissal information posted online.
Monday, January 30, 2017
UPDATE After several weeks of discussions and debate, Westport’s Board of Education tonight cleared the way to approve a request by the school’s transportation director to put three-point seat belts in 13 of the district’s school buses starting next year.
The request made by director Sandra Evangelista would total $120,900, with more than half of that amount being budgeted for the 2017-18 academic year to retrofit seven buses, and the remaining six buses for 2018-19.
While most board members seemed in favor of the proposal, the actual vote will come next week as part of the 2017-18 budget.
According to Elio Longo, school business administrator, each of the retrofits would cost about $9,300.
By James Lomuscio
Even though it was not on tonight’s school board agenda, parents and students one after the other came forward to protest. A couple of them cried. Others were in disbelief.
They had just learned that the Staples High School child development program as it exists now would be discontinued next year.
Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer’s decision to reshuffle the program to the social studies department was stealthily done without seeking parent and student input, they argued.
They also expressed concern about the future of Linda McClary, the long time, well-loved program teacher.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Westport Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer today welcomes guests to the Westport Historical Society (WHS) exhibit “Westport School Days 1703-Present” as Bob Mitchell (l), WHS president, and Bob Weingarten, curator, look on. The exhibit runs through March 25. Simultaneously, in the Mollie Donovan Gallery, debuting was “Katherine Ross: Artist and Art Educator.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Among the items on view at the new Westport HIstorical Society exhbit, “School Days 1703-Present,” which opened today, were a collection of class photos, a couple dating from the 19th century. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Ayush Rudra, 7, a second grader at Kings Highway Elementary School, today eyes an old fashioned school desk and its mannequin occupant at today’s opening of the Westport Historical Society exhibit “School Days 1703-Present.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com
Scenes from today’s opening reception at the Westport Historical Society for its new exhibit, “School Days 1703-Present.” It runs through March 25. Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com and WestportNow.com photos
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Staples High School sophomore Kayla Sirlin, 15, today shows off her joint National History Day project (completed with fellow sophomore Paige Anderson, 16) at the Westport Library. Called “A (Snap) Shot in the Dark,” it features Westport award-winning photographer Lynsey Addario, a 1991 Staples graduate, and Jacob Riis, a photographer, writer, and social reformer (1849–1914) who used his camera to spotlight harsh New York City tenement conditions. The project won a gold star in the competition and will advance to the regional National History Day competition at Sacred Heart University in March. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Muhammad Ali, the professional boxer and activist who died last June, was the theme of a Staples High School National History Day project displayed today at the Westport Library. Called “Muhammad Ali: Fighting More Than Just His Opponent,” it was created by sophomores (l-r) Zach Strober, 15, Austin Sholes, 16, and Jack Nealon, 15. Entries were judged by volunteers and ranked for possible submission to the regional National History Day competition in June. Lauren Frances, the schools’ 6-12 social studies coordinator, said about 200 Staples students participated in the event. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Westport Historical Society board members Michaela McColl (l) and Stacey Danielson were among the 12 judges today who judged entries in the “Taking a Stand: Westport Celebrates National History Day 2017” competition among Staples High School U.S. history students at the Westport Library. Judges ranked each exhibit with gold, silver, or bronze stars as students sought feedback for entry into the National History Day regional competition in March. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Scenes from today’s “Taking a Stand: Westport Celebrates National History Day 2017” event at the Westport Library displaying Staples High School U.S. history students’ projects for the National History Day regional competition in March. Lauren Francese, school social studies coordinatior, said the regional organizers were “overwhelmed” by the prospect of so many Staples entries that the school decided to hold today’s event to provide feedback to students on their efforts. In addition to the exhibits, some students developed websites, made documentary films or put on performances. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com and WestportNow.com photos
Thursday, January 26, 2017
The Westport Historical Society presents a new exhibit highlighting the evolution of education in Westport from 1703 to the present. The exhibit will bring back many school day memories as well as focus on Westport’s growth as an exceptional community for learning. The picture of the school on the banner was the Highway District School built in 1858. Members of the exhibits committees and (l-r) are Wally Woods, Barbara Peck, Katherine Ross, Susan Gold, Elizabeth Strick (in back) Nicole Carpenter and Bob Weingarten, the exhibit curator. The exhibit opens Sunday with a reception from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and runs through March 23. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Larry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com
Staples High School students are set to show they know a lot about history — both the national and regional kind.
On Saturday, the Westport Library will host 10th grade U.S. history honors students for “Westport Celebrates History Day: Taking a Stand” as they work on their projects for the annual National History Day competition.
The annual competition includes regional (Fairfield County), state, and national contests that enable students to showcase in-depth research on local, regional, or national issues.
The library event from 9 a.m. to noon will allow the students to present first drafts of their work, receive feedback from local judges, and leverage that feedback to prepare for the first round of competition at Sacred Heart University in March, an announcement said.
Staples High School Senior Sarah Barnett and Junior Charlie Colasurdo (r. top and bottom) were chosen to represent the United States at the recent International Science Youth Forum in Singapore. They were two of six students from across the country chosen to take part in the weeklong forum, featuring workshops with Nobel laureates and eminent scientists. Science teacher Karen Thompson accompanied the students. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo