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Parents Advocate for Later School Start Times Before Board of Ed

Citing multiple medical organizations that say sleep deprivation causes a slew of health problems in children and adolescents, parents on Monday night told district officials that they’re eager to weigh in on an open question, now facing New Canaan Public Schools, about whether to start later in the morning. Karen Willett, a parent of 11- and 6-year-old boys at Saxe Middle School and West School, told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the CDC have all issued policy statements “about the negative impact of early start times on student mental and physical health.”

“We realize that the decision on start times cannot be made in a vacuum,” Willett said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School

“As in every other district that has successfully changed start times, there are cost complications and logistical issues to be resolved. However, as we go through the process of addressing the difficulties, let’s also stay focused on the reason we are addressing this topic in the first place. Because that extra hour of sleep every day will help improve the mental and physical health of thousands of our children. In one of his budget presentations, [Superintendent of Schools] Dr. [Bryan] Luizzi said he often gets questions during the budgeting cycle from the finance people—and I’m paraphrasing here—‘What expenses can be deferred?’ and ‘What can be done later?’ and his response in regard to the student-impacting expenses, if we know a program is needed, we owe it to the current cohort of children to implement as soon as possible, because they will not be able to benefit from it if we defer it. Continue Reading →

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Board of Ed Votes 8-1 in Favor of $90.7 Million Proposed Budget

Noting that all but about .6 percent of a proposed 3.5 percent spending increase for next year is related to contractual wage increases or healthcare costs, members of the Board of Education on Monday night voted 8-1 to back a $90.7 million budget for next fiscal year. In backing the very same proposed budget that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi had presented to the school board two weeks ago, the spending plan is higher than what town finance officials had set and recently underscored as a “strong guideline” of 2 percent for municipal departments. Yet that “edict,” school board member Brendan Hayes said, represents “an arbitrary number.”

“It just doesn’t really factor in the realities of both macroeconomics or the financial realities of the New Canaan Public Schools budget,” Hayes said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. At about 1.9 percent year-over-year, wage increases in the district are far lower than national averages, Hayes said, and given that about 2.9 percent of the overall proposed increase is tied to the wages and healthcare of those who work for New Canaan Public Schools, a reduction to 2 percent would require cuts to programs, he said. “So I just personally don’t really understand that 2 percent because it’s not explained, whereas I look at this budget and the thought that has gone into it, which frankly is—beyond this year—it’s the culmination of a decade or more of work and programs in the schools,” he said. Continue Reading →

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Officials Void $25 Ticket for Woman Confused about Parking Limits on Elm Street

Changes to parking rules on Elm Street caused some confusion recently for a local worker. DesignDot employee and Stamford resident Suzette Schepps told members of the Parking Commission at their most recent meeting that she had received a $25 ticket for parking on Elm for more than 90 minutes one weekday morning last month. Under a change made formal with the installation of new signs, the legal parking time for most on-street spots downtown increased from 90 minutes to two hours. Schepps said during her appeal hearing before the commission that though the town had voted to make the change prior to her being ticketed, the physical signs were not yet in place. She was running late for her first team meeting at the New Canaan location, parked in a diagonal spot on Elm at 10:10 a.m. and rushed inside, Schepps said. Continue Reading →

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Disturbing Details of Prior Arrest Emerge for Female Cyclist Charged with Assaulting New Canaan Police Officer

The 37-year-old woman charged last week for assaulting a New Canaan police officer—her second arrest here since September—had already had a violent and profanity-laden clash with residents and law enforcement officials in Darien last month, police records show. Adaoibi Kurylov on the evening of Dec. 11 knocked down an 82-year-old man following an accident in Darien, severely fracturing his hip, then told responding officials that she hoped he would die and that the police are “corrupt and ‘pieces of shit,’ ” according to an incident report. The events unfolded after 5 p.m. that Monday on Hollow Tree Ridge Road, just west of the main entrance to Wee Burn Country Club, according to the Darien Police Department report. The 82-year-old man, a retired doctor, was driving when he struck the rear tire of Kurylov’s bike, the report said. Continue Reading →

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Citing Need for Decision on Future Use, Finance Board Puts Off $50,000 Study of Former Outback Building

Saying that the town first must decide how the building will be used, members of New Canaan’s funding bodies decided last week to put off a vote on $50,000 in studies that would be needed in order to make repairs and code-compliant upgrades to the former Outback Teen Center building. It’s too early to discuss an investment in architectural and engineering plans for what some now call the ‘Town Hall Annex’ when its future use remains unclear, Board of Finance members Todd Lavieri and George Blauvelt said at the group’s regular meeting, held Tuesday at Town Hall. Town Councilman Steve Karl voiced that thought during the legislative body’s regular meeting the following night. “This is about a building and about a hardship, basically, that the town inherited—we inherited what amounts to a dilapidated barn and we need to figure out what is a post-and-beam barn that is 17 years old with two bathrooms, how much is a couple of bathrooms and a barn worth?” Karl said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “And there is no property underneath it, because it’s the town’s property. Continue Reading →

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