Wednesday, March 29, 2023



Describing New Awards Image
Staples Tuition Grants co-presidents Iain Bruce (l) and Matt Porio welcomed guests at tonight’s ceremony and described some of the newly named awards, including those honoring recently deceased Staples students. These were especially meaningful to Bruce, joining an award honoring his son Cameron, a 2010 Staples graduate who died in an accident in his freshman year at Queen’s University in Canada. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

BOE Gets Firm on CMS as Middle School

By Jarret Liotta

The Westport Board of Education gave a clear message to the town Monday night that Coleytown Middle School (CMS) will remain just that, barring exceptional cost estimates. Image
The Board of Education discusses the now closed Coleytown Middle School. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

And even if numbers for its renovation and rejuvenation come back extremely high, members said that the town—in particular its funding bodies—will need to tell it so before it looks seriously at making Bedford Middle School (BMS) the town’s only middle school.

“If we get Coleytown Middle School back, we’re going to use it as a middle school. Period,” said BOE member Candice Savin.

Investigations into—and conversations about—new possible educational uses for CMS, including making it a sixth grade academy, have prompted speculation about exactly what the BOE wants it to be yet.

‘Significant Concerns’ Cited as BOE Gets Another Earful on Special Ed Practices

By Jarret Liotta

Far-reaching problems regarding Westport’s special education practices — and the school’s central office’s handling of those problems — were affirmed by an irate parent at Monday night’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting. Image
Parent Karen Ambrose denounces school special education practices at Monday night’s meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

The discussion followed last week’s comments by parent Rahul Kale — an assistant U.S. attorney by trade — who accused three central office administrators of illegally sharing privileged information about his children. He said they then retaliated against his family after he voiced issue about it.

Parent Karen Ambrose, who previously filed a complaint with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) against unnamed staff at Kings Highway School (KHS) in part alleging that a student had been physically restrained but that it had never been reported to the parents, blasted the BOE on the matter.

“There’s a real problem,” she said, noting that Kale’s wife, Sandhya Kale, a speech therapist at KHS, was wrongly put on leave in relation to the incident, along with principal Mary Lou DiBella.

BOE Bids Goodbye to 25 Retirees

By Jarret Liotta

More than five centuries of experience were celebrated Monday night when the Westport Board of Education honored 25 retiring employees. Image
Nicholas Mariconda and Erica Messina, who shared a combined 64 years in the district teaching music. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

“The number one indication of good education are the front line people who interact with our students,” said Chairman Mark Mathias.

“I am humbled by the impact I’ve been able to have on so many lives,” said Erica Messina, who taught music for 21 years in town.

“I will always be thankful and humble that I’ve had the opportunity to teach in a town that values music as Westport does,” said Messina, whose own children attended school here.

Winners and Losers: The 2019 Legislative Session

By CT Mirror Staff

The 2019 legislative session ended at midnight Wednesday. As usual, some folks came out of the process happy. Others are already plotting their strategies for next year.

The impact of these decisions will take years to determine. But here’s an early assessment of who came out ahead and who didn’t.


Cities and towns: The state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 slightly increases the $2.3 billion in aid that cities and towns get each year. The education grant program that accounts for most of the state’s municipal aid will rise by 2 percent next year. And Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan to send some towns a bill to help cover teacher pension costs got shelved.

State employees: After granting concessions in 2009, 2011 and 2017, unionized state employees were asked by Lamont to accept new limits on the annual inflation increase for their pensions. They declined that request.

CMS Update Raises ‘What If’ Questions for BOE members

By Jarret Liotta

The idea that Coleytown Middle School (CMS) may not be ready to open for August 2020, had Board of Education (BOE) members Monday night wondering what they might have done — or could still do — differently. Image
Don O’Day, chair of the Coleytown Middle School Building Committee, reports on the latest estimates. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

“The process has been held hostage by this 2020 date,” said BOE member Neil Phillips.

He like others said the latest news of an expanded work scope — and potentially longer timeline — for CMS are in sync with news from the original consultant, KG & D, which suggested a two- to five-year project and a minimum cost of $25 million.

“Everything that’s come back … is not much different,” he said, noting the vote to make Bedford Middle School (BMS) a townwide middle school was based on it being a one-year interim plan.

Parent Accuses School Officials of Illegal Improprieties and Retaliation

By Jarret Liotta

Video recording of meeting available HERE (6 mins - 11.43 mins)

A distraught parent Monday night used public comment time at the Board of Education meeting to accuse three district administrators of using retaliatory tactics again him and his family. Image
Parent Rahul Kale, an assistant U.S. attorney by trade, addresses the Board of Education Monday night. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

Rahul Kale, an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut by trade, said the trio acted after he lodged complaints about what he said was their illegally sharing privileged information about his children.

“I am simply incensed,” he said, accusing John Bayers, director of human resources, Tina Mannarino, assistant superintendent of pupil personnel services, and Colleen Palmer, former superintendent of schools, of using the retaliatory tactics.

He said not only had they had his wife, Sandhya Kale, a speech pathologist at Kings Highway School (KHS), put on leave for a complaint in which she was not named, but threatened to report him to the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and had the Westport Police Department investigate him.

Panel Overseeing Dalio’s Investment in CT Schools Would be Exempt From Ethics, Disclosure Laws

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Kathleen Megan

Legislators learned today what conditions come with the $100 million contribution hedge fund giant Ray Dalio’s philanthropic foundation is making to Connecticut’s underprivileged school children.

Foundation representatives overseeing how that money — and a matching $100 million in taxpayer money — are spent would be exempt from key ethics and disclosure rules.

The provision was included in the new two-year state budget Gov. Ned Lamont negotiated with his fellow Democrats in the House and Senate majorities. The House approved it late today and the Senate was expected to adopt it Tuesday.

“These corporate board-holders are going to go up to the balcony and sprinkle down dollars on, I guess, the peasants of Connecticut, and we’re supposed to be happy about that?” said Deputy House Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora, R-North Branford.