Friday, February 03, 2023

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Education

National Merit Scholarship Finalists Named

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Fourteen Staples High School seniors have been named finalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship program. As Merit Scholar finalists, all have a chance to earn one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarship awards, together worth more than $35 million. Pictured (back row, l-r) Martin Menz, Preston Lust, Joshua Zhang, Benjamin Tobben, Zachary Katz, and Carter Teplica; (middle row) Andrew Moy, Angela Ji, Anisa Prasad, and Sirina Prasad; (front row) Isabel Powell, Emma McKinney, Orly Salik, and Genevieve Domenico. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Board of Ed Ponders Thorny Issues: School Start Time & Student Success

By Jarret Liotta

It was a learning moment tonight for the Board of Education (BOE) as it heard two very different — but equally compelling — presentations on education. One featured a recommendation to move Westport’s school start time forward by 30 minutes.

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Christine Wanner, coordinator of health and physical education (l) and Suzanne Levasseur, supervisor of health services, answer questions about the School Start Time Committee’s recommendation that no Westport school begin before 8 a.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

After meeting for more than a year, the School Start Time Committee unanimously recommended that no Westport school should start before 8 a.m.

While it’s still in the discussion stages, some BOE members talked of such a change by 2020 to give people and institutions time to adjust.

“It’s about the timing of sleep,” said Christine Wanner, coordinator of health and physical education, who addressed the board with Suzanne Levasseur, supervisor of health services.

Brown Bagging With Board of Ed

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Dozens of persons turned out today for a brown bag session with the Board of Education at the Town Hall Auditorium.  As expected, the hot topic was the board’s plans for a 6 to 8 middle school at Bedford Middle School in the fall following the closing of Coleytown Middle School. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Kindergarten Registration Underway

The Westport School District said today the 2019-2020 kindergarten registration is underway.

Parents of entering kindergarteners should register as soon as possible, an announcement said.

“Registering now allows the District to optimally plan for your new kindergartener,” it said.

All registration information is located on the district website under the kindergarten registration link on the homepage https://www.westportps.org

Opponents of School Regionalization to Descend on Capitol

By Kathleen Megan

www.ctmirror.org

When Scott Lawrence and his wife moved to Connecticut 10 years ago, they chose to settle in Wilton — largely because of the excellent school system.

“We could have chosen anywhere,” Lawrence said, but “Wilton has an amazing school system. There’s accountability and control.”

But now Lawrence and thousands of other Connecticut residents are alarmed by what they perceive as a threat to their children’s’ education posed by several bills under consideration in the legislature, including one from Gov. Ned Lamont, which they believe would force or coerce communities into regionalizing their school systems or sharing superintendents.

Another Wilton parent, Bill Lalor, started a Facebook group called “Hands Off Our Schools” which now boasts more than 4,000 members from all over the state and has helped fuel a growing chorus of dissent.

Turf Talk: Fast Tracking Field Replacements

By Jarret Liotta

With a chance to see a new Staples High School (SHS) stadium field and surrounding track up and running by the end of September, consultants and school sports officials hope the town will move quickly off the blocks.

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Parks and Recreation Commissioner Alec Stevens and other officials examine turf samples at tonight’s meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

A combined Town Hall auditorium meeting tonight of the Parks and Recreation (P&R) Commission and the Board of Education (BOE) heard different turf and design options from representatives of Milone & MacBroon, a Cheshire-based consulting group, as well as a potential timeline to minimize impact to sports programs.

Actual cost estimates for three different turf options, based on outside bids, are due Friday and will be presented at a BOE meeting tentatively set in mid-March, with the P&R Commission in attendance.

Pending town approvals for funding, construction on the SHS stadium and Wakeman B Fields would begin on May 31, with work on the Ginny Parker Field in the eastern corner of SHS and the P.J. Romano Field at Saugatuck Elementary School done the summer of 2020.

Comings & Goings: One River School of Art + Design to Open in May

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One River School of Art + Design, a year-round school offering classes for children, teens, and adults, is scheduled to open in May in part of the former Bertucci’s restaurant on Post Road East. One River, founded in 2012 by School of Rock creator Matt Ross, is on a mission to transform art education in America. The school’s focus is on contemporary art, taught by practicing artists, with classes for children and teens being largely project-based. Westport native and class of 2000 Staples High School graduate Alyson Luck has signed on as director of the Westport school, One River’s 11th location. Luck, former manager of school, youth, and family programs at the Guggenheim, says the school will include three classrooms, a digital design lab, and a gallery space to display emerging artists’ work. For more information, visit https://westport.oneriverschool.com. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Anna-Liisa Nixon for WestportNow.com

Redistricting Scenarios Make ‘Grade 6 Academy’ Viable

By Jarret Liotta

Potential redistricting models could help encourage the creation and development of a townwide “sixth grade academy” at Coleytown Middle School (CMS), the Board of Education (BOE) heard tonight.

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Board of Education member Vik Muktavaram, who spoke in favor of creating a “grade six academy” at Coleytown Middle School, listens to consultants. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

Over the next several weeks the BOE will conduct private and public research to determine if it wants to propose undertaking renovation work at now-shuttered CMS with that goal in mind.

“Determining the use of that building as part of the educational strategy is critical,” Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said.

Some possible redistricting options were heard at the BOE meeting based on the question of whether Westport’s eight school buildings — in particular the five elementary buildings — are adequate in relation to enrollment projections, or at least being used efficiently.

Board of Education Adopts 2% Budget Increase

By Jarret Liotta

The Board of Education (BOE) voted unanimously tonight to accept Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer’s revised budget proposal for fiscal 2020, which is a $2.3-million increase over the current operating budget of $116.2 million.

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The Board of Education unanimously adopts the budget. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

The $118,500,464 budget, which represents an even 2.0-percent increase over the current one, will now go to the Board of Finance (BOF) for its approval.

While Palmer had initially requested a 2.68-percent increase, savings were found when the BOE decided to abandon the K-6 plan, which was projected to be more costly.

While going with the 6-8 model to house displaced Coleytown Middle School (CMS) students brought the increase down to 2.13 percent, funds were also found through $263,000 in the Cafeteria Fund, as well as an estimated savings of $300,000 in a projected decrease in health benefit costs.

Woman’s Club Offers ‘Outstanding Woman’ Scholarship

The Westport Woman’s Club (WWC) is offering a college scholarship “to an outstanding woman enrolled in a post-secondary educational program.”

According to an announcement, the award will be based on financial need and the applicant’s goals upon the program’s completion.

The application deadline is Friday, March 29, according to Gloria Smithson, WWC spokeswoman.

For further information and a scholarship application visit http://www.westportwomansclub.org or call the WWC at (203)227-4240.