Sunday, April 02, 2023



Palmer: CMS Closure Could Last Through School Year

By Jarret Liotta

UPDATE Westport Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer told parents today that the proposed closure of Coleytown Middle School (CMS) due to mold and related air-quality concerns possibly could extend through the school year. Image
More than 100 persons attended the information session at Bedford Middle School.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

She made the comment in a email following Thursday’s emergency Board of Education meeting. At another emergency board meeting late today, the board approved the pupil shifting plan to move sixth and seventh grade students to Bedford Middle School, and eighth grade students to Staples High School.

“If necessary, it is possible that the students of CMS may remain at BMS and SHS for the entire year,” Palmer said in the email. She initially had said the school closure could last three to four weeks.

Palmer said in a tweet Thursday night If approved, CMS students would have partial day on Monday, and a full day Tuesday.

CMS to Close Thursday & Friday to Evaluate Health Issues

Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer said today dozens of students reported health issues today at Coleytown Middle School (CMS), site of serious mold problems, and announced the school will be closed Thursday and Friday after the scheduled Wednesday Jewish holiday closing to evaluate the issues. Image
This Facebook photo shows CMS students waiting to see the nurse today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo from Facebook

She made the announcement in an early afternoon email to parents after many of them picked up their youngsters early due to health complaints. One father who picked up his daughter said: “The library was full of sick kids. My daughter said kids were throwing up all around her. Lots of angry parents screaming at staff.”

Palmer also announced that a Thursday 7 p.m. meeting to discuss the mold issues at the school has been shifted to Bedford Middle School. Later, it was announced that the CMS calendar will be extended two days in June to make up for the Thursday and Friday closings.

“The number of absent students exceeded 50, which is double the typical rate, and the nurse’s office handled dozens of students who complained of various health complaints today,” Palmer said in the email.

‘Waiting to See the Nurse’ Image
UPDATE A parent at Westport’s Coleytown Middle School today posted this photo, which was described as “over 30 kids waiting to see the nurse.” Social media was abuzz with parents reporting their children at the school, which has been battling mold issues, were sick and awaiting pickup to go home. One father who picked up his daughter at the school said: “The library was full of sick kids. My daughter said kids were throwing up all around her. Lots of angry parents screaming at staff.” In early afternoon, Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer told parents in an email that absences today exceeded 50, double the normal rate, and the nurse’s office handled “dozens of students” who complained of various ailments. She said “in an abundance of caution,” the school will be closed Thursday and Friday after the scheduled closure Wednesday for the Jewish holiday of Yum Kippur to further evaluate the problems. She said a scheduled meeting on the mold issue on Thursday at 7 p.m. will be shifted to Bedford Middle School. Photo from

CMS Mold: Parents Voice Fear and Annoyance

By Jarret Liotta

Prompted by a health-related morning evacuation at Coleytown Middle School today, parents expressed worry and concerns tonight over how the Westport Public School district is addressing an ongoing mold issue. Image
School board members listen to Superintendent Colleen Palmer’s more than 30-minute report on mold remediation efforts. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

Following reports from eight staff members and one student that they were not feeling well, the building was evacuated for about 30 minutes while fire officials determined the cause was not related to carbon monoxide.

While a number of students later visited the nurse to complain of issues including headaches, nausea and dizziness, Suzanne Levasseur, the district’s supervisor of health services, said these were determined not be related to mold in the building.

“There’s been heightened awareness with mold symptoms (and) we have been on it,” she said, calling today’s event “a little bit of an outlier.”

‘Something’s Obviously Wrong’ Image
“Something’s obviously wrong,” declared Coleytown Middle School (CMS) parent Michelle Lin, who cried at the podium tonight addressing the Board of Education about her concern for mold issues at the school. Referring to today’s illnesses at the school, she said, “We need to find out what happened first … Hire experts …. We need to find out why they got sick.” She said her seventh grade son at CMS has asthma. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

Large Parental Turnout for School Mold Discussion Image
More than two dozen parents attended tonight’s Board of Education meeting where much of the discussion centered on mold issues at Coleytown Middle School. Parents expressed worry and concerns over how the school district is addressing the ongoing mold issue at the school. Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said remediation costs could escalate to several million dollars and raised the possibility demolishing the school and rebuilding might eventually be deemed more cost effective. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

CT Cities and Towns Press Candidates for Mandate Relief

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities today challenged candidates for state office to address more than 1,300 mandates placed on city and town budgets.

The costs associated with these mandates — most of which are supported only partially with state dollars or unfunded entirely — are driving up property tax rates and leeching resources from local services, according to a new CCM candidate bulletin.

CCM also took a proactive strike in its new candidate bulletin, urging those running for office to oppose two controversial proposals that have surfaced at the Capitol in recent years: shifting a portion of teacher pension costs onto communities and expanding workers’ compensation benefits to cover mental stress suffered by police and firefighters.

In a campaign season dominated by one pledge to eliminate the state income tax and a countercharge that this would devastate Connecticut’s quality of life, CCM tried today to focus candidates on achievable goals.

Illnesses Force Evacuation of Coleytown Middle School

UPDATE Staff members feeling ill at Coleytown Middle School today forced evacuation of the school, school authorities said. Image
“Several staff members reported shortness of breath and dizziness.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Firefighters initially suspected carbon monoxide issues but readings taken in school—site of numerous mold-related issues recently—were negative.

The alarm began sounding shortly after 9:30 a.m. Students and staff were readmitted about 10 a.m., according to witnesses.

A school email sent almost two hours later to parents said: “At approximately 9:35 a.m. this morning several staff members reported shortness of breath and dizziness.

Staples Class of ‘68 Reunites Image
The Staples High School class fo 1968 capped off its 50th reunion weekend today with a brunch gathering at Compo Beach. According to Nancy Sendecke Kotchko (front row, 4th r), event co-chair, 40 classmates and spouses met at the Black Duck on Friday night and 80 attended a reception and dinner dance at the Norwalk Inn on Saturday night. In addition to Kotchko, event co-chairs included Lois Parker Booth, Tommy Nistico, and Clark Ruff. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

George A. Weigle, Orphenians Founder, 90

UPDATE—adds date of memorial service

George A. Weigle, of Westport, legendary choral director at Staples High School for 35 years and founder of the Orphenians, died Aug. 21 at Norwalk Hospital. He was 90. Image
George Weigle: Staples legend. Contributed photo

Born in Vienna, West Virginia, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music from West Virginia Wesleyan, his Master of Arts degree in music from Boston University, his 6th year degree from Columbia University, and an honorary doctorate from West Virginia Wesleyan.

He started his teaching career in the Westport Public School system in 1954 at Bedford Junior High School. He then moved to Staples High School in 1959 as choral director, retiring in 1988.

He was also the choir director at the United Methodist Church in Westport for 33 years.