Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Sponsors

Education

Superintendent Suggests Making Elementaries K-6

By Jarret Liotta

With no viable rental facility forthcoming to house a sixth grade “academy,” Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer recommends making Westport’s elementary schools K-6 next year.

WestportNow.com Image
The five elementary principals give a presentation on how they can make K-6 elementary schools work. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

The Board of Education (BOE) heard the reasons why in another lengthy meeting Monday night, which included a presentation by the five principals of Coleytown (CES), Greens Farms (GFS), Kings Highway (KHS), Long Lots (LLS) and Saugatuck (SES) Elementary Schools on how they would make it work.

All this came as something of a surprise to at least two board members, who said they had expected this night’s meeting to focus on hearing about a rental property for the sixth grade “academy” that they thought was going to be secured.

While the BOE had scheduled a possible vote on the facilities utilization question, which has been hotly debated for the past six weeks, it opted to postpone for another week, citing this barrage of new information, which it felt they and the community at large needed time to digest.

Comings & Goings: Goddard School Opening

WestportNow.com Image
The Goddard School, a preschool system, will open at 20 Saugatuck Ave., opposite Dunville’s Restaurant, in the summer of 2019, according to owner Kristen Bodenstein, a Greenwich resident. Established in 1988 by entrepreneur Anthony A. Martino, the high-quality, play-based learning program has grown to 500 locations across 37 states. Bodenstein, the mother of two children, ages 10 and 4, said matriculation is limited to 152 students — infants to 5 years old — in the 11,400-square foot facility currently under construction. For further information visit http://www.goddardschool.com. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Palmer Lists Endorsed Options

In an email to parents today, Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer listed recommended options for school reorganizations as recommended by the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to be discussed at tonight’s Board of Education meeting. Here are excerpts:

“The following three options were recommended for further consideration by the BoE:

“I/IIA – ‘All Elementary schools become K-6 with the addition of flex space and or portables until such time that the CMS is reopened or new space is found for either.’

“VIIIB – ‘Find a rental location to house the 6th Grade Academy and keep all elementary schools K-5.’

Several Rejected Options Resurface at School Advisory Committee Meeting

By Jarret Liotta

A closer examination of building options for next year gave the Board of Education’s (BOE) Community Advisory Committee (CAC) pause tonight to look closer at possible redistricting, as well as renewed consideration of a combined middle school at Bedford Middle School (BMS).

WestportNow.com Image
CAC member Amie Peck (r) listens to co-subcommittee member Elena Caggiano talk about the reason that Option 6 — a townwide middle school — is back on the table. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

While it was withdrawn as an option at its last meeting, some CAC subcommittee members — who were looking into a staggered schedule at BMS for townwide grades 6-8 — brought to light a newly created nine-period schedule that would allow all 1,300 middle school students to attend simultaneously.

“It frees up the library and it frees up the auditorium,” said Elena Caggiano, with 41-minute periods — including 41-minute lunches — opening more classroom space for what would become a townwide middle school requiring no new construction.

As things currently stand with Coleytown Middle School (CMS) and BMS operating independently in the BMS building, some classes are very small, having as few as 12 students in them.

More Input From Parents

WestportNow.com Image
A second listening session was held today at Town Hall on educational options following the closure of Coleytown Middle School. It was led by Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer and attended by members of the Board of Education, school administration, town officials, PTA, members of the Community Advisory Committee, and the community. CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Listening to Parents

WestportNow.com Image
Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer, members of the Board of Education, and the
Community Advisory Committee (CAC) tonight held the first of two meetings to discuss the various options for the 2019-20 academic year. The meeting with parents on options following the closure of Coleytown Middle School was held at Long Lots Elementary School. A second event will be held Wednesday at noon in Town Hall. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

CMS Crisis Committee Kills Some Options

By Jarret Liotta

Implementing a mindset of parity, the Board of Education’s new Community Advisory Committee (CAC) tonight pared down some of the options recently presented by Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer to address the crisis caused by closure of Coleytown Middle School (CMS) due to air quality issues.

WestportNow.com Image
Saugatuck Elementary School teacher Jeanne Bowles was elected to chair the CAC. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

At the same time it is setting out to gather more information on the viability of the remaining options before it presents the board with its recommendation in the next few weeks. It assigned subcommittees that will conduct research and present to the full committee.

“It’s a herculean task,” said Jeanne Bowles, math specialist at Saugatuck Elementary School and Westport resident, who was voted to chair the CAC at the Town Hall auditorium meeting. “There are so many moving parts.”

“I think everyone feels in the community that this is a lot to take in a short time,” she said.

Public Responds to Options For Dealing with CMS Crisis

By Jarret Liotta

Issues around the Coleytown Middle School (CMS) crisis dominated Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, where Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer gave a formal presentation of the options her administration has proposed for next school year.

WestportNow.com Image
Bedford Middle School principal Adam Rosen and Coleytown Middle School principal Kris Szabo address the Board of Education. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

Palmer drew laughs when she said, “Every parent hates at least a few of these … because I received a lot of emails of what parents hate.”

A dozen options are under consideration, including relocating grades to different schools, consolidating middle schools, and finding a new building to which one grade or another of students can be relocated.

One idea that was not put forward but has gained traction privately among some parents is constructing an addition on Bedford Middle School (BMS) and turning it into a townwide middle school.