Dionna Carlson

Recent Articles

Parents Call for Board of Ed To Open ‘Formal and Public’ Study on Later School Start Times

Eight months after hearing that they would be part of a working group dedicated to the task, parents in plain language on Monday night called for the Board of Education to open a “formal and public study” to evaluate later school start times in New Canaan. Saying she represented more than 600 New Canaan Public Schools parents who have signed an online petition advocating for later start times, Megan Steele said the group respectfully requested “that the Board of Ed members put to vote the immediate formation of a ‘School Start Time Committee’ to be formally and publicly created, per the bylaws, so that we the public can have full knowledge of any meetings, process and progress, and additionally provide meaningful input into this outcome.”

“It is a very important decision and we know it is a complicated one,” she told members of the Board of Ed at their regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “We know we need to understand the costs, the logistics and possible solutions. But we believe we must put our teens’ health first and take a holistic, creative approach to making this work. As parents and registered voters, we are entitled to this from our Board of Ed and school administration. Continue Reading →

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‘I Do Not Understand’: Citing Coach’s Drug Arrest, Resident Seeks Info from Board of Ed on Allowing Police K-9 Dog in NCHS

Citing the recent arrest of a New Canaan High School coach after authorities found him to be in possession of 20 bags of heroin, a prominent resident on Monday night urged district officials to rethink their policy on K-9 sweeps at the Farm Road building. Chris Hussey told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting (see video above at 2:30) that she learned about one year ago that in order for the New Canaan Police Department’s K-9 dog to come to the school, “they had to give the school notification.”

“I said I didn’t understand that,” Hussey said at the school board meeting, held in the Wagner Room at NCHS. “The idea, I would think, is surprise. He [Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi] was going to speak to the chief and get back to me. We never got together. Continue Reading →

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Board of Ed To Form Its Own ‘Headquarters Committee’ To Study, Recommend Future Location

The Board of Education on Monday moved toward forming a new subcommittee that will be charged with researching and making recommendations about a future location for New Canaan Public Schools’ offices. Composed of three or more school board members, the ‘BOE Headquarters Special Committee’ will work with architects and builders, investigate the needs and uses of similar “high performing district” BOE headquarters and “review past facilities studies performed for the New Canaan Public Schools,” according to a description that the Board of Ed reviewed at its regular meeting on Monday night. School board member Brendan Hayes said that as municipal officials think about what to do with town-owned buildings “and the number of possible locations of the Board of Ed, it makes a ton of sense for us to study it and really outline for the town as far as space goes and the type of space and access and things like that.”

“And really work with town collaboratively to make sure that if there is an opportunity to save money through relocating the Board of Ed offices that we take that opportunity,” Hayes said during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. It isn’t clear which board members will serve on the committee. The Board of Ed read through a description and Chair Dionna Carlson said the group could take up a formal vote to form the committee at its next meeting. Continue Reading →

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Board of Ed Votes 9-0 To Reduce Student Instructional Days by One To Preserve Friday, June 22 Last Day of School

As the wiggle room for preserving a family plan-friendly academic calendar fades with each successive snow storm, the Board of Education on Monday night voted unanimously to reduce the number of student instructional days for this academic year from 182 to 181. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi advised the school board to do so, rather than push back the last day of school for students from Friday, June 22 to Monday, June 25. The March 13 school cancellation—the sixth of the year—pushed the Board of Ed into a position where the district was in conflict with its own policy on the last day of school. By policy, that last day can be no later than the third full week in June—in this year’s calendar, that’s Friday, June 22. Yet with the cancellations, that date now represents the 181st day of school for students. Continue Reading →

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‘It Will Not Be Easy and It Will Not Be Pleasant’: Board of Finance Hears Passionate Calls for Fiscal Prudence, Full District Funding as Vote Nears

New Canaan must be careful as a community to have frank, detailed conversations about its financial situation and not “succumb to the tyranny of the parent,” a homeowner and mother of four children in public elementary and middle schools here told members of the Board of Finance on Tuesday. Everyone loves their kids and wants a good school district, yet this idea floating around New Canaan now that spending on the public schools somehow fuels property values is false, according to Rita Nagle. “That is simply not the economic relationship that exists,” Nagle said during a budget hearing held at Town Hall. “Property values fund taxes, which fund school spending. That is the way the relationship works. Continue Reading →

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