Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Westport Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said today the bus driver union leadership is not promoting a strike on Thursday, but how many drivers will show up for work will not be known until morning.
In an email to parents, she said a federal mediator, with urging from her office and the Dattco bus company, reached out to the drivers’ union to ask the union leadership to encourage its members to come to work on Thursday. Their contract expires at midnight tonight.
“We have been informed that this did occur and that union leadership is not promoting a strike,” Palmer said. She added that negotiations with representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371 are set to continue on Monday.
“We will not know the status of the drivers who plan to work tomorrow until shortly after 6:00 a.m. when they begin to report for work,” Palmer said.
Westport’s Long Lots Elementary School Principal Jeffrey M. Golubchick, placed on “paid administrative leave without prejudice” in February for letters his attorney sent to some teachers and administrators, has resigned, Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said today.
In an email to Long Lots parents, she said he has submitted his resignation effective June 30. Golubchick, 36, has been principal since July 1, 2015. He earlier served as assistant principal at Saugatuck Elementary.
“Mr. Golubchick recently notified us that he will be leaving Westport to find an administrative position closer to his home in New York or in California, where his wife grew up,” Palmer said.
The school official has been silent since the abrupt removal of Golbuchick. He was at school on Wednesday, Feb. 8 but after a snow day on Thursday, he was not at the school the next day. (See WestportNow Feb. 11, 2017)
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
For the third time in little more than eight years, the threat of a strike by Westport school bus drivers looms for Thursday, Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said today.
In an email to the school community, she said workers employed by Dattco Transportation will go on strike if the drivers’ union fails to reach agreement on a new contract by midnight Wednesday. Schools will still be open, she said.
Her predecessor, Elliott Landon, sent a similar warning email to parents in September 2012 and in September 2008. Both times strikes were averted.
Palmer said the “only exception will be those special education students currently accessing specialized transportation, for whom the district will continue to provide transportation during the strike.”
U.S. News & World Report (USN&WR) has released its top public high schools list nationwide and Westport’s Staples High School is ranked No. 5 among 48 Connecticut high schools on the list.
Nationally, Staples is No. 391 and No. 60 in STEM high schools. It also was among eight Connecticut schools receiving a gold medal.
Last year, Staples came in No. 14 in Connecticut in the US&NWR rankings. Nationally it was No. 574. (See April 20, 2016)
The magazine cited Staples for its 99 percent graduation rate, a college readiness score of 60.5, AP tested 65 percent, AP passed 91 percent, a 63 percent math proficiency, and 68 percent English proficiency. See the USNWR Staples profile HERE. Its methodology is HERE.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
The Democratic Women of Westport (DWW) will host a panel entitled “Raising Children in Trump’s America” on Tuesday, organizers announced.
The discussion from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Branson Hall, Christ & Holy Trinity Church, 75 Church Lane, will explore “how to address the needs emerging in our community as a result of the new political landscape, including recent executive actions and political directives,” an announcement said.
“Panelists will discuss how to talk to children about the political climate in a way that is authentic and not fear-based, and how to use kindness as an act of resistance. “
Panelists include Claudia Connor, president and CEO of the International Institute of Connecticut; Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, interim director of the Anti Defamation League, Connecticut; Claire Dinshaw, editor-in-chief of Inklings the Staples High School newspaper; Tara Covais Varsov, a psychotherapist working with children and families, and Karen Dahl of little m, a communications firm.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Scenes from today’s Maker Faire Westport. Dave Matlow, Lynn U. Miller, J. C. Martin for WestportNow.com and WestportNow.com photos
Friday, April 21, 2017
Scenes from today’s seventh annual Westport preschool self-portrait reception in the Higgins Room in the Westport Library’s Children’s Department. The event marking the Week of the Young Child is part of the early literacy outreach program with Westport preschoolers. The preschool artists were very proud of their self-portraits and happily showed their artistic endeavors to their families and friends. The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers and families. Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
Sophia Livecchi, 17, a Staples High School senior, tonight was named winner of the annual Tracy Sugarman Award, named in honor the late Westport artist and illustrator. Jurors Ann Chernow and Leonard Everett Fisher selected her entry, “Woven Terrains,” as best in the third annual High School Student Art Exhibition at the Westport Arts Center. Sophia, who will attend Swarthmore College majoring in art, credited Staples art teacher Camille Eskell for inspiring her work and urging her to enter. The award, sponsored by retired Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas and Janet Nevas, was presented at the opening reception for the Center’s “Main Street to Madison Avenue” exhibit. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Retired Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas (l) congratulates High School Art Exhibit winner Sophia Livecchi, 17, a Staples High School senior, tonight upon her being named winner of the annual Tracy Sugarman Award, which honors the late Westport artist and illustrator. Nevas and wife Janet established the award to honor their longtime friend. Jurors Ann Chernow (seated) and Leonard Everett Fisher (2nd r) selected her entry, “Woven Terrains,” as best in the third annual High School Student Art Exhibition at the Westport Arts Center. The ceremony took place at the opening reception for the Center’s “Main Street to Madison Avenue” exhibit. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Westport’s Saugatuck Elementary School second graders were in for a treat today as renowned actors (and Saugatuck parents and grandparent) (l-r) Greg Naughton, Kelli O’Hara, and James Naughton visited the school (pictured with student Owen Naughton). James Naughton narrated the Weston Woods animated adaption of Peter Brown’s “Creepy Carrots!” and his son and daughter-in-law read several of Brown’s books. Award-winning author and illustrator Brown will visit all Westport elementary schools next week. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Rae Anne Locke for WestportNow.com
Samantha Atlas, a Staples High School junior trumpet player, recently participated in the National Association of Music Educators All-Eastern Honor Ensembles held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event represents the top performing high school musicians from the eastern United States and is held every two years. Samantha performed in the All-Eastern Band. She is pictured with conductor Dennis Fisher. Recently, for the fifth consecutive year, Westport was honored with the designation among the Best Communities for Music Education from the NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Westport’s Christ & Holy Trinity (CHT) Church has announced the appointment of Marianne Keith as director of its preschool.
She replaces Moira O’Connor who will retire in June after 19 years in the role, an announcement said.
Located in the historic Seabury Center on Church Lane, the preschool has a long tradition of offering play-based educational excellence and bringing together an active community of families.
Keith is a well-respected early childhood educator and has deep ties to the Westport/Weston community. She currently serves as director of the St. Francis of Assisi Preschool in Weston. Before that, she was a program coordinator and teacher at St. Paul Christian School in Westport.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
West Hartford — Lobbying groups for Connecticut teachers and municipalities today unveiled poll results showing 72 percent of voters oppose using local property tax dollars to fund a portion of the state’s pension program for public school teachers.
The survey, commissioned by the Connecticut Education Association and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, also found 64 percent of voters would cast ballots against legislators who back such a plan.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, which wants to shift one-third of a skyrocketing pension bill onto municipalities, responded that communities and teachers must accept that Connecticut must make tough choices to address long-ignored problems.
And while the advocates for education and municipalities insisted shifting pension costs onto the local property tax base was an unacceptable solution, they didn’t discuss how state officials should cover an expense projected to grow 525 percent over the next 15 years.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force has scheduled a “Healthy Teen Relationships” presentation for Monday, April 24, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Westport Library, the town’s Human Services Department announced today.
Using a series of short films from the One Love Foundation, panelists will cover nuances of teen dating relationships and provide practical advice that every young person should hear before embarking on a dating relationship, organizers said.
They said that one in three girls and one in four boys will experience relationship violence in their lifetime, making the discussion “all the more critical as intimate partner violence permeates our culture.”
Elaine Daignault, Human Services director, said in 2015, Westport Police responded to 91 domestic violence-related calls. She cited statistics that show 10 percent of high school students have been hurt physically by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
The Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) recently honored two Staples High School students at its 22nd annual Arts Recognition Banquet recognizing Connecticut’s outstanding high school visual and performing arts students. Nominated by their teachers for the award were (top, l-r) Jack Norman and Alyssa Domenico. They are pictured with Staples teachers David Roth and Carla Eichler. At the event, 150 member high schools were represented. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Thursday, April 06, 2017
By James Lomuscio
One after the other and with no time limits, more than two dozen parents, PTA members, alumni and a few students came to the podium at Wednesday night’s Board of Finance meeting,
There, they extolled the value of the Westport school system, the reason many said they moved to town, and they urged the finance board to restore $700,000 to next year’s operating budget.
The finance board listened intently but more than four and a half hours later at 1:08 a.m. today by a 5 to 2 vote gave back only $310,000 of the $1.674 million it had cut from the schools’ $115.35 proposed operating budget, which had been a 2.44 percent increase over the current year.
With the restoration and the addition of $480,000 from the school’s health reserve fund approved by the school board Monday night, the 2017-18 operating budget now stands at $113.65 million. It will go to the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) in early May for final approval and a possible vote for full restoration of the $700,000.
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
UPDATE There was a full house tonight for the Westport Board of Finance meeting as it considered a $700,000 restoration request from the Board of Education for its 2017-18 budget. After more than four hours of discussion, the board voted 5-2 to restore $310,000. Jen Tooker and John Hartwell were opposed, each proposing higher amounts — Hartwell $600,000 and Tooker $400,000 — which failed. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Fourth graders from Westport’s workshop (gifted) program have advanced to the state finals of the national Invention Convention competition. They moved up following the weekend’s Western Connecticut Regionals in Danbury. The state competition will take place April 29 at UConn in Storrs. The winners will advance to the national competition at the U.S. Trademark and Patent office in Alexandria, Virginia in June. Pictured (l-r) are Lucas Ceballos-Cala and Pierce Brown of Coleytown Elementary, Kate Watkins and Samantha Henske of Kings Highway Elementary. Their teachers are Priscilla Jones of Kings Highway and Eileen Carroll of Coleytown. The Connecticut Invention Convention is a nonprofit educational program designed to develop and enhance critical thinking skills in children in grades K-8 through invention, innovation and entrepreneurship, while encouraging interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
Parents opposed to cuts in Westport’s proposed 2017-18 education budget of $115.3 million — a 2.44 percent increase over the current year — have taken to attaching scissors to mailboxes with red tape in protest. They have also mounted an online petition. The Board of Finance, which cut $1.67 million from the education budget, will meet Wednesday night to consider a Board of Education request to restore $700,000 of the cut. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The Westport school system wants your feedback on how it is doing.
The Board of Education’s Strategic Planning Committee is leading the effort as part of its development of a “multi-year comprehensive strategic plan for the district,” an announcement said today.
The committee has developed an online survey that requests people’s opinions regarding the strengths and areas of growth for the Westport Public Schools.
All community members, including parents, faculty, alumni, and residents without children in the school system, are invited to participate, the announcement said.
Monday, April 03, 2017
By James Lomuscio
After three hours of grueling numbers crunching, Westport’s Board of Education tonight voted unanimously to ask for a $700,000 restoration from the Board of Finance when it meets Wednesday night.
On March 16 the finance board cut $1.674 million from the school board’s $115,351,346 proposed school budget for 2017-18, a 2.44 percent increase over the current year.
At the beginning of tonight’s meeting the Board of Education voted 6 to 1 to offset the Board of Finance’s cut by $480,000 by reducing its health reserve fund from 8 to 5 percent, which had been recommended by Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer.
While all who voted said it was not an ideal move and it posed risks, they agreed it was a needed short-term fix. That reduced the finance board cut to $1.194 million.
See full text of winning essays HERE in pdf format and below as text
The winner of the TEAM Westport diversity essay contest on white privilege said tonight he was overwhelmed to be chosen the winner for his essay “The Colors of Privilege.”
“I’m super excited,” said Chet Ellis, 15, a Staples High School sophomore and track team member who moved to Westport from New York City six years ago with his college professor parents and two sisters.
“I think a lot of Westport is a friendly community and not as vocal (about race relations) as some news reports say.”
Chet was referring to the national and international controversy stirred up by the essay’s prompt: “White privilege, surfaced as a topic during the recent presidential election. In 1,000 words or less, describe how you understand the term ‘white privilege.’”
Chet Ellis, 15, of Westport today reads his TEAM Westport teen diversity essay contest winning entry at a ceremony at the Westport Library. The contest’s white privilege theme attracted international attention. The Staples High School sophomore called his essay “The Colors of Privilege.” WestportNow.com video
The runners-up in the TEAM Westport teen diversity essay contest tonight applaud first place winner Chet Ellis. Pictured are Josiah Tarrant (l), 16, whose $750 second place essay is titled “White Privilege and Me,” and Claire Dinshaw, who won $500 for her third place essay “The Privilege of Ignorance” in which she said “white privilege is like a trust fund.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Scenes from tonight’s TEAM Westport diversity essay contest ceremony at the Westport Library. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Three Staples High School students have been chosen to represent the school at July’s Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit in Singapore. Hwa Chong Institution invites only the top student leaders from some of the best schools around the world to the summit. For the past five years, Westport has been invited to send three juniors who are both high performing students and interested in world affairs with a special interest in Asia. This year’s attendees include (top row, l-r) Samantha Ginzberg, Staples English teacher and chaperone and Jackson Delgado; (bottom row) Marshall Heiser and Jessica Xu. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Friday, March 31, 2017
To the Editor:
Budget cuts or not, we’re in good hands.
Recently many have been worried about the future of our schools. I’ve been looking for a way to explain why I’m not worried about the future of our schools — not yet anyway, and tonight I found it.
I don’t know what will happen with our budget, but I know that our students will always be in good hands and in great schools regardless.
In support of fellow WEMS volunteer Ben Frimmer and several kids that I’ve watched over the years, I went and saw Coleytown Company’s performance of “Cinderella” — directed by Ben and put on by the kids of Coleytown Middle School.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Scenes from today’s dress rehearsal by Coleytown Middle School’s Coleytown Company of its production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” which runs Thursday through Saturday. Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
The Coleytown Company’s “Cinderella,” running Thursday through Saturday under Artistic Director Benjamin Frimmer, is bringing a modern day vision to the production.
In this version Cinderella, or Ella as she is known, is reimagined as a strong, independent young woman who wants to make the world a better place.
Returning are choreographer and Broadway veteran Michelle Berti and set designer Peter Barbiere. Joanna Pan is overseeing costume design. Brett Boles is musical director.
In all, 85 eager and talented students have been rehearsing and working hard to make this one of the school’s best productions ever.
Bedford Middle School sixth graders prepare for “The Witches.” Contributed photos
Bedford Middle School sixth grade students present “The Witches,” the Roald Dahl classic tale on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
“The Witches” is a tale of a boy and his grandmother who use their wits to defeat the Grand High Witch’s plan to squelch all the children of England by turning them into mice.
“This Roald Dahl story is both stupendously scary and gleefully giddy and will appeal to young kids, adolescents and adults alike,” an announcement said.
Tickets are available online at: http://www.bedfordactinggroup.com — $10 for children and $12 for adults. Children 2 and under are free. Seats are also available at the door.
Monday, March 27, 2017
George E. LaCava of Danbury, a retired Westport educator, died March 22. He was 86.
He was appointed head of instructional materials at Staples High School in 1967.
He received a B.S. from Danbury State College, a M.S. at the University of Bridgeport, and did graduate work at Fordham University and the University of Arizona.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, March 31 at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph Church, 8 Robinson Ave., Danbury. Interment will follow in St. Peter Cemetery, Danbury. There will be no calling hours.
An earlier version of this story said incorrectly he was a member of the English department.