Friday, April 12, 2024



Police Athletic League Awards Scholarships Image
The Westport Police Athletic League (WPAL) presented its annual Ellis Family College scholarships to 24 college students. Pictured: (front row, l-r) Mariah Ventrella (Sacred Heart), Maria Chappa (Southern Ct), Juliana Verrelli (Salve Regina), Kristen Godin, Jayme Thompson (Western CT), Nicole Thompson (Pace); (back row, l-r) Officer Ned Batlin, president, WPAL, Login Rice, Ben Thaw (Wesleyan), Trip Backus (U of Maine), and Howard Friedman, president, Scholarship Committee. Absent from the photo are Alex Frawley (Melissa & Doug Award), Matthew Librandi, Emma Mikesh (Marist), Samantha Schwartz, Kelsey Bobrow (Cornell), Tucker Bobrow (Cornell), Allison Librandi, Lindsay Sampson (UConn), Sam Arciola (U of Alabama), Adam Friedman (Florida Atlantic)Brittany Kelley (Sacred Heart), Andy Palaia (Holy Cross), Charles Sampson ( UConn), Matt Kashetta (James Madison U), and Matt Schwartz (Southern CT)  Conributed photo

School Board, Palmer Hunker Down with Budget

By James Lomuscio

While the rest of the town was digging out today, Westport’s Board of Education was digging into Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer’s proposed operating budget for next year — $119,170,202. Image
Colleen Palmer at today’s meeting: “I’m prepared to change the way we do business.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

In front of a sparse crowd of only 13 persons in the Town Hall auditorium, school board members and several administrators pored over Palmer’s proposed 2018-19 operating budget, a $4,792,855, or 4.19 percent increase, over the current year.

From early morning to 4 p.m., board members and administrators were scheduled to examine the 198-page budget book, looking for areas to trim without compromising the quality of education.

Before and during the meeting Palmer attributed the increase, a significant departure from an average of 2.5 percent jumps over the five several years, to increased medical claims that “are trending unfavorably for the district,” Palmer said.

Palmer Explains 4.19 Percent School Budget Increase

Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer today sent parents an explanation for her proposed 2018-19 academic year operating budget — $119,170,202, a 4.19 percent increase. Image
Colleen Palmer: cites increased medical claims. Dave Matlow for

She first disclosed the budget figure at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting and will discuss it in detail at an all-day budget work session Friday beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.

Her budget, $4,792,855 more than the current year’s, is due to increased medical claims that “are trending unfavorably for the district,” Palmer said.

“The current FY 2018 operating budget was able to be set below 2 percent with the infusion of one-time funds from a robust health insurance reserve last year,” she said.

Board of Regents Votes to Consolidate All 12 Community Colleges

By Clarice Silber

The governing board of the state’s 12 community colleges voted today to advance a controversial plan intended to merge the schools into a single accredited institution, despite fervent opposition from faculty and students who attended the meeting. Image
Community college faculty members in red t-shirts listen to a colleague speak against the consolidation. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Clarice Silber for

Faculty clad in bright red shirts emblazoned with “CSU Works…Because We Do!!!” took turns objecting to the plan, as the packed audience repeatedly clapped loudly. Some community college students also spoke to oppose the proposal, which aims to shed nearly 190 people in top administrative positions by 2021.

The Connecticut Board of Regents’ endorsement leaves Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system, one step closer to rolling out the plan in July 2019. He now will seek approval from the schools’ accrediting institution, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

The regents oversee the CSCU system, which includes the community colleges, the four regional state universities and the online Charter Oak College. They backed the community college consolidation in response to mounting pressure to save money because of declining enrollment and reductions in state funding.

Palmer: Schools Looking at 4.9 Percent Budget Hike

By James Lomuscio

Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer said tonight the school system is staring down a 4.9 percent increase over the current $114,377,000 budget for the 2018-19 academic year. Image
Colleen Palmer: concerned about “health insurance pressure points.” Dave Matlow / WN file photo

Palmer made her announcement at a Board of Education meeting during a preliminary budget discussion with school board members and town officials.

They included members of the Board of Finance, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), First Selectman Jim Marpe, and Second Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker. Both Marpe and Tooker are former Board of Education members.

Palmer attributed the jump from this year’s 1.57 percent increase over the previous year to $1 million in health insurance claims that “has had a cascading impact on our budget.”

Gordon Reelected School Board Chair

By James Lomuscio

With its election of officers tonight, Westport’s seven-member Board of Education displayed a nonpartisan nature as Democrats and Republicans nominated each other for key positions.

Republican Jeannie Smith nominated Democrat Michael Gordon for another term as board chairman, a position to which he was reelected by a vote of 6 to 0 with 1 abstention. Gordon abstained.

“Michael has proved to be a strong leader in one of the more challenging volunteer jobs in town” said Smith, adding that Gordon “leads in a nonpartisan manner.”

Democrat Candice Savin seconded the nomination, calling Gordon “a generous chair” who treats all with respect and courtesy, as well as being “a tireless advocate for the children of Westport.”

Coleytown Middle Makes Thanksgiving Gifts Image
For more than 40 years, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Coleytown Middle School students and staff have gathered the day before Thanksgiving to present donations of food and funds to many area not-for-profit organizations during the Annual Giving Assembly. This year, the Coleytown Middle School community contributed food, boxes of school supplies, and monetary donation to representatives from seven organizations: Homes with Hope, Saugatuck Congregational Church, Westport’s Department of Human Services, Al’s Angels, Connecticut Quest for Peace, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo