Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Police Explain Digital Responsibilities
Westport Police Detective Sereniti Dobson, the department’s youth officer, tells Westport middle schoolers tonight about dangers that lurk online. The evening’s topic,“Social Media and The Law: What every kid needs to know about their rights and responsibilities in a digital world,” was moderated by Jen Cirino, Westport school system’s coordinator of Information and technology. Also taking part were Detectives Phil Resteri and George Taylor. The Westport Police-Youth Collaborative, which aims to foster closer ties between police and teens, sponsored the “cop shop” at Toquet Hall. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
‘Spread Heart, Not Hurt’
Scenes from tonight’s Westport Police-Youth Collaborative “cop shop” at Toquet Hall, which aims to foster closer ties between police and teens. Jen Cirino, Westport school system’s coordinator of Information and technology, provided guidance on prevention of Identity theft. She told the students to be selective about what they include in their online profile, know what is public and which is private, know how to use the site’s protection features, and choose a screen name and picture carefully, She summed up: “Think before you post or text, a bad reputation can be just a click away. Spread heart, not hurt.” Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
College Application Tip: Watch Your Facebook Posts
A former college admissions official, Stephanie Klein Wassink, told the Westport Rotary Club today that teens who post offensive comments on Facebook, even under an alias, are jeopardizing their college applications. “They think because they use an alias for potentially offensive posts they don’t realize that their broad circle of acquaintances know who the alias really belongs to and can easily identify them in a way that can get to the attention of the college admissions staff,” she said. A graduate of Brown University and the Wharton School of Business, Wassink is a former Wall Street trader who evaluated thousands of applications while working on Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management admissions committee. In 2004, she founded Wilton-based Winning Applications, designed to assist students in the college application process. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Monday, March 03, 2014
Landon Tops School Salaries—State’s, Too
By James Lomuscio
As in previous years, Westport Schools Superintendent Elliot Landon, who earned $290,418 for 2013, leads the list of the school systems’ top 10 salaried employees, according to information released today by the Westport Public Schools.
Elliott Landon: highest paid CT superintendent. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Landon taking the top spot comes as no surprise since he is the highest paid of Connecticut’s 155 superintendents, according to the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS).
“He’s been holding that status for a long time,” said Donna Finello, executive administrator for CAPSS.
The average school superintendents’ salary in Connecticut is around $165,000, but CAPPS Executive Director Joseph Cirasuolo cautions against making comparisons. Cirasuolo has served as superintendent in Clinton and Wallingford.
BOF Audit Committee Works on School Insurance Report
The Board of Finance Audit Subcommittee met today with Scott Bassett, representing McGladrey LLC, the town’s outside audit firm, to clarify guidelines for the formal audit report on the Westport school insurance audit which will be presented soon. Bassett said the report will recommend a new line item budget to actual reporting structure and provide actuals vs. budget information that can be monitored from month to month. Committee Chair Brian Stern said he expects the report will clarify how a $400,000 double counting happened and how such errors can be avoided in the future. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Thursday, February 27, 2014
National Merit Scholarship Finalists Named
Nine Staples High School seniors have been named finalists in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program. As Merit Scholar finalists, they will have a chance to earn one of 8,000 National Merit Scholarship awards, together worth more than $35 million. Pictured are (back row l-r) Katherine Zhou, Steven Sobel,Charles Jersey, Mrinal Kumar, Sarah Fox and Ben Goldschlage; (front row) Warren Schorr, Amanda Mezoff and Eliza Llewellyn. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Six Staples Students Cited at Science Fair
Six Staples High School students were recognized for outstanding research at the recent Southern Connecticut Invitational Science and Engineering Fair at Newtown High School.
There were 250 student projects from 10 school districts across Fairfield County. In total, 36 Staples research students competed in the fair. Those cited were:
Sam Chinitz (sophomore) won third place Environmental Proposal for his project “Optimal Braking Strategies for Energy Recovery in Autonomous Cars.”
Kristen Onorato (junior) won first place Environmental Proposal for her project “Developmental Effects of Grafting Leguminous and Non-Leguminous Plants.”
Monday, February 10, 2014
BOE Approves New Cuts, Asking $110.3M for 2014-15
The Westport Board of Education tonight approved $699,000 in cuts from the superintendent’s original 2014-15 proposed budget, resulting in a revised request to the town of $110,319,484—a 5.89 percent increase over the current year.
The cuts include $50,000 for instructional supplies, to be made up by asking parents of 2,500 younger students to purchase $20 in supplies themselves.
The board also authorized a one-time special appropriation request of $1,088,709 to the Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) this year to cover a shortfall in its health insurance fund and provide for a 5 percent “risk corridor” fund going forward.
This would be made up of $355,009 to be allocated to the current year budget and $733,700 for the risk corridor, said Chair Elaine Whitney. The Board of Education’s Health Insurance Subcommittee approved the recommendations earlier today.
School Health Subcommittee Makes Recommendations
UPDATE The Westport Board of Education Health Insurance Fund Review Committee today adopted recommendations to address the school health fund shortfall of $1.9 million. They will be presented to the Board of Education and the Board of Finance. The recommendations include a one-time appropriation request for $1,088,709 to cover the shortfall in the current year ($355,009) and establishment of a 5 percent “risk corridor” ($733,700) as well as expenses incurred but not reported (IBNR). CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Thursday, February 06, 2014
School Board Ponders Cuts in Next Year’s Budget
By James Lomuscio
Westport’s Board of Education in a special meeting tonight voted unanimously to set aside $240,000 taken from its $104 million operating budget to help offset a more than $1.9 million health insurance shortfall this year due to unexpected large claims.
The vote followed more than three hours of discussions on another matter—ways to trim Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon’s proposed $110.8 million 2014-15 operating budget, a 6.56 percent increase. The jump is due to the insurance shortfall plus new educational strategies, including the STEM (science, technology engineering and math) program.
“It’s a significant increase (6.5 percent), and we’re trying to be as responsible as we can, looking for areas where we can tighten our belts a bit,” said Elaine Whitney, school board chairwoman.
Whitney noted that if the health insurance shortfall had been figured into the current year’s budget, the adjusted increase for next year would be only be 4.8 percent.
Landon on Late Closure Call: ‘My Crystal Ball Was Wrong’
Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon tonight told the Board of Education he was “disappointed” with his late school closure call during Monday’s snowstorm and promised, “we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
While all other Fairfield County school districts had announced closures by 5:30 a.m. Monday in the face of what was an accurate prediction of 6 to 8 inches of snow, Landon did not announce Westport’s closure until 6:45 a.m.
By that time, some teachers had arrived at Staples High School or were on their way and some students were already on school buses or waiting at bus stops. The head of the teachers’ union said the late decision put teachers and students in danger.
“Nobody could be more disappointed than I in the fact that we—I made the announcement late,” said Landon, who later refused to discuss his decision with local media, at the outset of tonight’s meeting. “But there were extenuating circumstances, one of which for those of my loyal followers who think I overslept. I did not.”
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
McKinney Calls for CT Education Chief to Resign
By Jacqueline Rabe Thomaswww.ctmirror.org
Following backlash from teachers across the state surrounding the rollout of two education reforms, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney is calling for the governor’s education commissioner to resign.
Senate Minority leader John McKinney, whose district includes part of Westport, talks to reporters today in Hartford. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org photo
“They need a voice and a leader that they can trust, and it’s clear they have lost trust in him,” the Fairfield Republican who is seeking the nomination for governor said today of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
The state is in the process of requiring that every teacher be evaluated in accordance with state guidelines and implementing the new Common Core State Standards that will change what students are tested on each year.
Last week, state Democratic leaders decided to slow down the rollout of evaluations and set up a task force to help with implementation of the new standards.
Click here for more of story
BOF Audit Committee Reviews School Fund Shortfall
The Westport Board of Finance’s Audit Subcommittee today heard an update on control issues related to the external review of the Board of Education’s $1.9 million Health Insurance Fund shortfall. The shortfall is currently under review by a committee established by the Board of Education. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Turning Over the Controls
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
School Budget Summit to Avoid Another Shortfall
By James Lomuscio
During more than three hours of grueling numbers crunching tonight, the Westport Board of Education in a joint special meeting with the Board of Finance and other committees tried to fathom how the school system wound up $1.9 million in the hole this year and how to avoid future health insurance shortfalls.
The shortfall consists of a projected cash equivalent of $595,009, plus $1,307,400 of incurred but not reported (IBNR) claims.
Members of the Representative Town Meeting’s (RTM) Education and Finance committees, the school board’s Health Insurance Fund Review Committee, and Robert Pernicka, senior vice president of Segal Co., the school system’s actuarial consulting firm, all dug deeply into the school board’s intentional draw downs of health insurance reserves and a sharp increase in unreported claims since 2012.
Elio Longo, the school system’s business manager, noted earlier this week that for 2012, six claims exceeded $100,000, one of them more than the stop loss of $225,000. For 2013, the number of six-figure claims jumped to 16, he said, with six exceeding $225,000.