Monday, May 27, 2024



Lamont Drops ‘Redistricting’ From Controversial Bill to Get Schools to Share Services

By Kathleen Megan

Gov. Ned Lamont has recast his proposal encouraging school districts to share services, eliminating some of the words — like “redistricting” and “consolidation” — that prompted widespread controversy and protest.

Lamont said he understands the concerns of many constituents who object to forced consolidation and is hopeful the changes he made to his proposal address those concerns, according to a statement from his office.

At a legislative hearing before the Planning and Development Committee where the bill came up as part of a broader discussion today, however, some residents and others expressed relief about the revisions while others said they still could not support the governor’s plan.

The bill, Senate Bill 874, calls for the establishment of a Commission on Shared School Services. Originally, the bill said the commission would be established to develop “a plan for redistricting or consolidation of school services and school districts.”

Almost Time for Wrecker Baseball Image
A new bullpen, adjacent to the Staples High School Wreckers baseball field, is currently under construction by contractor Dave Lepska. He said the current bullpen is often mired in mud following wet weather and is uneven for pitcher and catcher pre-game warmups. The Wreckers’ home opener is Friday, April 5 against New Milford. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Administrators’ Survey Expresses ‘Grave Misgivings’ About Superintendent Image
UPDATE This is one of 11 questions asked in a survey of 40 Westport school administrators completed a month before Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer announced on March 14 her intention to retire effective Aug. 1. A note accompanying the survey said it expresses “grave misgivings, distrust and deep concern in general about the entire Central Office staff of the BoE and especially” Palmer. Purportedly from the Westport Intermediate Administrators Association, the unsigned note added it is clear from the survey results that Palmer “can no longer be effective in her current role and a replacement needs to be in place as soon as possible.” Asked to comment on the survey. Palmer said: “We are aware of the survey, and our BoE has been working to create productive conversations to listen to and assist in resolving these concerns. We value our administrative team, and we are taking the results of the survey very seriously.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Kenneth H. Johnson, 93

Kenneth H. Johnson of Newtown, a retired teacher at Westport’s Staples High School, died March 19. He was 93. Image
Kenneth Johnson: Staples teacher. Contributed photo

He was born on Feb. 28, 1926, in Bridgeport, son of the late Lawrence and Tina Johnson from Stratford.

He graduated from Stratford High School in 1944 and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1944 to 1946 as a B17 airman.

Ken received a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Bridgeport and his sixth-year teaching certificate from the University of Connecticut.

New Plan Emerges to Ease Shared Services Across School Districts

By Kathleen Megan

Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, has an alternative to the hotly contested school regionalization bills that he says would help small towns voluntarily share more services and save money.

It’s a proposal that would allow a consortium of towns to act as “a local education agency” as a way of maximizing cooperative agreements and efficiencies without establishing a regional school district.

“We are steeped in a DNA that wants home rule. We can’t help that,” Needleman said today, but he believes his proposal would allow towns to maintain local control while choosing when it makes sense to collaborate and save money.

Needleman’s original proposed bill, Senate Bill 572, has been replaced with language in Senate Bill 1069 that calls for a study of the idea, as well as some language that would allow such collaboration for special education purposes.

Twins Named Staples 2019 Top Scholars Image
Identical twins  Anisa Verma Prasad (l) and Sirina Verma Prasad today were named top Staples High School scholars for the class of 2019. Anisa is salutatorian while Sirina is valedictorian. Their route to the top began in first grade, at Greens Farms Elementary School. Their parents had moved to Westport from London, where their father, Gautam, worked in financial services. Their mother, Nita, is a professor at Quinnipiac University. Remarkably, this is not a first for Staples. In 2011, twins Eric and Todd Lubin were number one and two in their class, respectively. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Westport Students Excel in State PTA Reflections Art Contest Image
Eighth grade Coleytown Middle Schooler Allison Gillman (above) won second place in literature in the the Connecticut PTA Reflections Art Contest for her poem, “A Hero Defined.”  At Bedford Middle School, in the music category, Charlotte Franklin’s “The Fire Within” garnered third place. Staples students took three first place finishes: Juliette Saviano in dance, Greta Gilbert in literature, and Chloe Chaple in film. Dylan Goodman won second place in music and Rachel Varsano placed fourth in visual arts. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

BOE Considers Budget Cuts, CMS Design Requirements

By Jarret Liotta

The Board of Education (BOE) Monday night heard suggested budget cuts and the urgent need to determine final educational requirements for the now-shuttered Coleytown Middle School (CMS). Image
Retiring Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer and Board of Education Chair Mark Mathias at Monday night’s meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

The possibility was raised of CMS becoming a grade six academy, or possibly a grade five-six school with reparation costs estimated at $10 to $20 million.

Following a $250,000 reduction to its budget by the Board of Finance (BOF) last week, the BOE unanimously agreed not to ask for a restoration, buoyed in its decision by some suggested cuts from the retiring Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer.

“I’m of the opinion that we should not seek restoration,” said BOE member Vik Muktavaram, with others concurring. “I think there’s enough here we can work with,” he said, referencing the cuts.

CT Doctors, Insurers Concerned About Dropping Vaccination Rate

By Ana Radelat

Connecticut children are still vaccinated at a higher rate than the national average, but the number has dropped in recent years — with most of the state’s unvaccinated children avoiding immunizations for religious reasons.

The drop off in immunizations follows a national trend that concerns doctors, health insurers and school administrators and is prompting states like Connecticut to weigh taking action.

According to information from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, 98.8 percent of Connecticut’s kindergartners were immunized against measles, mumps and rubella in the 2013-2014 school year. That dropped to 96.5 percent last year.

Vaccinations of kindergartners for diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, dropped from 98.8 percent in the 2013-2014 school year to 96.5 percent in the last school year.

Curtain Call for ‘Curtains’ Image
Staples Players tonight take a curtain call at the end of “Curtains,” the musical mystery comedy that was the final project of Kander and Ebb—the songwriting team behind “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” Additional performances are this Sunday and next at 3 p.m. and next Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Go to for tickets. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for