Board of Education

Recent Articles

‘This Is a Wonderful Community’: New Canaan Public Schools’ Facilities Director Bob Willoughby To Retire

Saying his wide knowledge, calm manner, diligence, conscientiousness and collegiality has served the kids, faculty and staff of New Canaan Public Schools well through some of the district’s largest capital projects in memory, officials on Monday night honored Director of Facilities Bob Willoughby, who will retire after this academic year. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi recalled that on being hired as New Canaan High School principal six years ago, he made an official visit to the town with his wife and daughters and “we jumped into the elevator to go meet the superintendent, Dr. David Abbey, and there was Bob in the elevator.”

“I always knew there wasn’t a problem you couldn’t solve or figure out, and I always looked to you for your experience and wisdom to do what’s right. It’s going to be hard to fill your shoes but you also taught all of us quite a bit, so we are better off than we would have been without you.”

The board presented Willoughby with a gift and he earned a long ovation from its members as well as about 20 people in attendance at the meeting. They included New Canaan’s highest elected official. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi, who has said he was so impressed with Willoughby’s role in the school district that he created a counterpart position for the town, called the facilities director “a real pleasure to work with.”

“We hit it off immediately and it’s one thing for me to hit it off immediately with him but honestly everyone I know in town has hit it off immediately with this gentleman, and I will miss you incredibly,” Mallozzi said. Continue Reading →

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‘We Will Have To Make Some Hard Decisions’: District Officials Address $1 Million Reduction to Budget Request

The Board of Education in proposing its original 2.76 percent operating budget increase already had factored in year-over-year reductions in spending on employee benefits, contracted services and supplies, officials said last week. Now that the district is faced with, at most, a 1.6 percent operating increase for next year—following a $1 million reduction to its $88.6 million proposal by the Board of Finance—the schools will “have to look at everything,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Town Council at their March 15 regular meeting. Since the superintendent’s own original proposed budget increase, the school board went “through the process initially of reducing and making some tough choices about initiatives and programs coming in, so we have to get back to the table and really take a hard look at everything that we have and make some decisions.”

“We will continue to keep an eye on insurance as best we can, but ultimately I will be sitting with the administrative team, we will look at everything with the Board of Education and share with them some options and decisions. It is premature to say specifically ‘this program’ and that program’ but it is going to be our responsibility is to look at it.”

The comments come as the district looks at a $1.38 million increase to its budget—and it may be less, as the Town Council has the ability to reduce it further (though not to add to it)—while it’s contractually required to pay $1.76 million more to employees (mostly teachers). Councilman John Engel asked Luizzi at the meeting: “Where is this cut going to come from?”

“Do you think that it’s fair to say electives are going to be the first things to look at? Continue Reading →

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New Canaan High School Per-Sport Spending [TABLE]

On a per-student, per-season basis and before private donations are applied, New Canaan Public Schools projects next fiscal year to spend the most money among all sports on NCHS girls ice hockey ($2,264), followed by boys ice hockey ($2,094), girls gymnastics ($2,072), girls softball ($1,437) and girls golf ($1,311), according to district officials (see table below). Within the total NCHS athletics program cost of $1.47 million for fiscal year 2018, the varsity football team at an estimated $154,993 by far would garner the highest percentage of spending for any single sport, according to the schools’ budget book. Football’s high participation (158 total athletes across four teams) drives that overall cost, as does its large combined coaching staff of 16—more than twice the next-closest sport (boys’ lacrosse, at seven), according to the data. Overall, NCPS expects to spend about 23.7 percent more on combined boys’ sports versus girls’ sports next year—$589,875 versus $477,033, the data shows. On an average per-student basis, it expects to spend about 11 percent more overall on boys than girls, before shared costs and private contributions are considered, according to the district’s own data. Continue Reading →

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‘It’s Nice To See Kids Maintaining Their Childhood’: Saxe Middle School Principal Defends $200,000 Request for New Playground Equipment

When playground equipment was purchased a dozen years ago for Saxe Middle School with about $125,000 in privately raised funds, many in town debated whether the gear would be used by the students there at all, Principal Greg Macedo said Wednesday night. Yet today, it sees regular use not only among fifth- and sixth-graders, according to Macedo, but also from seventh- and eighth-graders. That’s partly for reasons of status—the older kids like to run out and get on the playground equipment first—and partly because students rotate from there during outdoor recess to a playing field and on to a game of tag, Macedo told members of the Town Council at their regular meeting. “Remember now we are talking about middle-schoolers, so ‘free play’ in their mind is socialization—before maybe physical education, or even recreation,” Macedo said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “So oftentimes you will see students climb the equipment and then want to stay there to socialize.”

The comments came during an opening round of budget discussions between the Board of Education and Town Council, the elected body that has final say over next fiscal year’s municipal spending plan. Continue Reading →

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‘He Is an Exemplary Model’: NCHS Educator Jim Zambarano Named ‘Teacher of the Year’ by Tech Ed Association

While serving as New Canaan High School principal, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi recalled Monday night, the district saw a rise in interest among students for computer science and coding. NCHS offered no specific class to address those interests, Luizzi recalled, though Jim Zambarano—for many years now, the chair of the school’s Career & Technical Education program—“had talked about what might be needed to try and do that,” according to Luizzi. “I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Well we don’t have anybody to teach that,’ ” Luizzi recalled at a Board of Education meeting, held in the Wagner Room at NCHS. “And he looked at me right back and said, ‘I can,’ and jumped right in.”

Thanks largely to Zambarano, the program swiftly was put together. “We talk often about ‘Project Lead the Way,’ our goals and STEM education and engineering, and we are very proud of our Project Lead the Way program. Continue Reading →

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