Patrick Barnard

Recent Articles

School Staff: With Smarter Balanced, It’s Near-Impossible to ‘Teach to the Test’

School curriculum leaders told members of the Board of Education on Monday that when it comes to the new Smarter Balance assessments that are replacing the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), there really is no way to “teach to the test.”

“It’s probably very close to impossible to teach to this test—because of the adaptive nature of it,” Sarah Broas, English language arts coordinator for grades 5-8, said in a response to a question from school board member Maria Naughton during the group’s regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “But it is also because of all the standards that are wrapped up in the test.”

Broas was one of about a dozen curriculum leaders at the meeting who have been working as a team to address the district’s standardized testing needs. The meeting included a detailed overview of how the district is doing all five of the state assessments, including the CMT, CAPT, PSAT/SAT and ACT, as well as the new Smarter Balanced, which was first administered to students in 2015 as a pilot or “field test.”

The Smarter Balanced test was developed to be more closely aligned with the Common Core Standards adopted by Connecticut and 44 other states in 2010. It is administered in grades 3 through 8 and currently covers language arts and math. The science component of the test is scheduled for launch next year. Continue Reading →

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ZBA Green Lights Small Addition in Harrison Avenue Development

The Zoning Board of Appeals at its most recent meeting granted a variance allowing Don Corbo of Darien to build a small addition at 138 Harrison Ave.—one of six units in the development, consisting of three two-family homes near Main Street. Corbo, managing partner of Harrison Avenue Development, told members of the ZBA at their Oct. 2 meeting that he is converting the homes—purchased this summer for $4.2 million— from rentals to condominiums, and thus is seeking to renovate and update them. “This particular unit is the smallest and least attractive of the units,” he said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. “Right now it has only one room on the first floor which serves as a living room, dining room and kitchen.”

The plan, he said, is to build a small addition that will allow for a separate kitchen area on the ground floor and a master bedroom on the second floor. Continue Reading →

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Plan to Build Two-Family Home on East Avenue Stalls at ZBA

An application for a variance that would allow a two-family residence on East Avenue to replace a 1900-built single family home there was continued Monday night after town officials expressed concerns over the proposed driveway and pedestrian access way included in the project. On its face, property owner William Panella’s request for a variance for 72 East Ave. is straightforward: The applicant is requesting relief from the residential Zone B requirement for a minimum 100 feet of street frontage, as the property only allows for about 93 feet of frontage, and to allow the driveway from East Avenue to connect with another driveway and parking lot for an adjacent commercial property on Vitti Street. Panella plans to tear down the existing 1,400-square-foot home, where his late mother Mary had lived, as well as the detached garage in the rear and construct a new, residential style, two-family dwelling measuring about 4,000 square feet. Before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, attorney David Rucci of Lampert Williams & Toohey LLC explained that he is, in fact, representing two clients on the project, William Panella, son of the late Mary Panella, whose property is the subject of the application, and Panella’s development partner, Art Collins, who is developing an adjacent property on Vitti Street, directly behind the property on East Avenue and in the town’s Business B zone (see map below). Continue Reading →

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Republican Candidates for Town Council Face Off in Second Debate

Republican candidates for Town Council offered their views on on some of the town’s most controversial planning and zoning applications during the Republican Town Committee’s second candidates’ debate held at Town Hall Wednesday. Currently there are six Republican candidates for Town Council: Roy Abramowitz, Tom Butterworth, Mike Mauro, Rich Townsend and incumbents Penny Young and John Engel. They are jockeying for seats opening up on the Town Council this fall and thus are seeking party backing. When asked for his opinion on the Planning & Zoning Commission’s recent approval of the Merritt Village redevelopment downtown, Engel, who missed the first RTC debate in June, said, “Real estate is what I do—and I have a deep understanding of the Merritt Village project.”

“Number one, I respect the process,” he said of the recent approval. “We heard earlier that the Town Council doesn’t get involved in what P&Z should do—just like the first selectmen doesn’t tell them what to do—and I don’t think we should have a thumb on the scale with P&Z. Continue Reading →

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Election 2017: At Selectman Debate, Kenin and Williams Say They Won’t Force A Primary

Republican candidates for selectman Christa Kenin and Nick Williams said during a debate on Wednesday they would not force a primary in the fall municipal election should they fail to win the nomination during the Republican caucus on July 18. This is in contrast to two of the three Republican candidates for first selectman, Cristina Ross and Kevin Moynihan, who earlier in the evening indicated that it is possible they will choose to primary, should they fail to get on the party ticket. Both said it would depend on the outcome of the vote in the caucus. When asked if he would support his opponent in the fall election if he is not endorsed, Williams, a three-term incumbent, said during the Republican Town Committee debate, “Yes, I support Republicans.” “And although it’s not my race, I’m a little shocked to hear that at least two of the candidates running for first selectman saying they won’t respect this process and that they’ll primary,” he said during the debate, held at Town Hall and moderated by Michael Dinan of NewCanaanite.com and Greg Reilly of the New Canaan Advertiser. Continue Reading →

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