Friday, June 14, 2024



BOE Reviews Implementing K-6 Plan

By Jarret Liotta

The Board of Education Monday night reviewed issues relating to the proposed restructuring of kindergarten through sixth grades caused by the closure of Coleytown Middle School (CMS)—the K-6 plan for short. Image
Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer shares an update on logistics of the K-6 plan. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

They included budgetary impacts, program plans, and classroom space.

Numbers presented by Elio Longo, chief financial officer, show that — separate of portable classroom costs, which are yet to be determined — moving to the K-6 model would result in an overall savings of $623,000, including an estimated reduction of 14.2 full-time employees.

This is part of a tentative $119 million budget for 2019-20, representing a 2.57 percent increase over the current year of $116.2 million.

Norwalk Community College Head to Retire

David L. Levinson, a Westport resident, will retire June 30 from his positions as president of Norwalk Community College (NCC) and vice president of Community Colleges for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system (CSCU), an announcement said. Image
David Levinson: 15 years as NCC head.  Contributed photo

CSCU President Mark E. Ojakian has asked Levinson to stay on for an additional year to support ongoing system efforts. He will serve as presidential fellow from July 1 to June 30, 2020, contributing to CSCU’s Students First initiatives, the announcement said.

“Dr. Levinson has been an exemplary leader at Norwalk for the past 15 years and served a critical role in the CSCU system since its formation in 2011,” Ojakian said. “I am pleased he will be staying on to help implement our critical student success efforts.

Ojakian has selected Cheryl DeVonish to serve as the NCC interim campus chief executive officer, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the campus beginning July 1. 

Talk Tackles Addiction and the Adolescent Brain

Dr. Ruth Potee, a nationally renowned expert on addiction and adolescent brain development, is scheduled to speak in the Staples High School auditorium on Thursday at 7 p.m., Westport’s Human Services Department announced today.

According to Human Services Director Eileen Daignault, Potee gave a lecture on adolescent brain development last year at Bedford Middle School, “and it was one of the most highly rated programs in the history of Westport PYD (Positive Youth Directions).”

“We are very excited to have Dr. Ruth Potee back in Westport,” Daignault said.

She said Potee’s presentation will provide an overview of brain physiology and its impact on addictive behaviors.

Boiler Problem Forces Evacuation of Coleytown El

A boiler problem today forced the evacuation of Coleytown Elementary School, according to school and fire officials.

At about 9:03 a.m., a smell coming from a small boiler room in the northeast wing prompted pulling of a fire alarm and students and staff were evacuated outside, said Principal Janna Sirowich in an email to parents.

Firefighters from Engine Co. 6, which is adjacent to the school on Easton Road, were quickly on the scene and discovered that a motor had seized up.

“There was no fire at any time and smoke was contained to the boiler room area, Sirowich said. “The building was checked for carbon monoxide and there was none present.”

Long Lots Parents Share Worry About Getting CMS Back Quickly

By Jarret Liotta

With many dismayed Long Lots School (LLS) parents voicing concern about potential overcrowding next year if grade six moves to elementary schools, the Board of Education (BOE) Monday night formally charged its Coleytown Middle School (CMS) Task Force and set it in motion. Image
CMS Task Force members and Joe Fuller (at microphone), head of the town’s Maintenance Study Committee, at the BOE meeting . (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

Following unanimous appointment by the BOE, task force members requested public notice for a CMS walk-through on Wednesday at 8 a.m. Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said her office would have a notice posted today.

The task force is being asked to “evaluate and describe the cost and efficiency of safely opening Coleytown Middle School in whole or in part” by next year, with a charge to report findings to the BOE by the end of January.

“We support the safe reconditioning of Coleytown Middle School by September,” LLS parent Lisa Waller told the BOE, echoing the urgency of several LLS parents who worry that the K-6 model will impede life at their school given space constraints.

Board of Finance Gets First Look at Preliminary School Budget Increase

By Jarret Liotta

Board of Finance Chairman Brian Stern told the Board of Education (BOE) Monday night it will probably have to do better for its 2019-2020 budget than an estimated 2.67-percent increase to its current $116.2-million operating budget. Image
Board of Finance Chairman Brian Stern (foreground) talks to school officials. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

“The Grand List went up 1.2 percent,” Stern said at the first informal budget powwow with the BOF, which included members of the Board of Selectmen.

Following a summary of the financial state of the town, Stern said his “suggestion” was that the BOE roughly match that 1.2-percent increase in its final budget request.

Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer presented an estimated budget request of $119.3 million for the 2019-20 school year.

Task Force to Study Viability Of Getting CMS Back Online

By Jarret Liotta

The next chapter in the Coleytown Middle School (CMS) saga unfolded tonight when the Board of Education appointed membership of the town’s Maintenance Study Committee (MSC) to oversee its CMS Task Force. Image
First Selectman Jim Marpe makes a pitch for the Board of Education to use his appointed Maintenance Study Committee to look into the viability of getting Coleytown Middle School back online. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

With plans in motion to move sixth grade to the elementary schools next year following the closing of CMS due to mold, moisture and air quality issues, a thorough investigation into the building’s future is on the table.

But while the board meeting was virtually empty following voluminous and polarized public participation in recent weeks over the controversy of how to realign the schools, the board itself was politely split over the makeup of the task force.

“I’m wondering if there is an opportunity perhaps to rely on the committee, but also bring in other people,” said member Vik Muktavaram. He noted several members of the public had spoken to the BOE over the past several months and offered their expertise in related areas.