Eversource missed an Aug. 25 deadline to run natural gas lines to New Canaan’s public schools, and district officials say they’re now preparing for a more expensive backup whereby oil might be used for a period of time if the work still isn’t done by heating season. Delayed in part by weather, the company still has “quite a bit of work to do,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said during a regular meeting Monday of the Board of Education. “They are working hard,” Luizzi said during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “There is weather involved with this.
District officials said Monday night that they’re gathering more information for Board of Education members before the elected group votes formally on whether to allow a K-9 dog in New Canaan Public Schools. Some Board of Ed members last month voiced concerns over the prospect of adopting a new policy whereby police could be invited by the district to bring a drug-sniffing dog into a school.
Since then, administrators have received “a couple of questions from the Board,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said during a regular meeting of the Board of Ed. “One, for instance, around how many school districts in our [District Reference Group] have such a policy, things like that,” Luizzi said during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “We expanded it a little bit just to look around, we asked nine other districts, and it’s not helpful at all in that four of them do not have a policy and five of them do. Pretty much down middle.
Saying they need more information and time to reflect on what would follow from allowing a police K-9 dog to search for narcotics in New Canaan schools, members of the Board of Education on Monday night decided to forgo voting on a new policy that would introduce the practice. Even if authorization from school administrators was required for K-9 searches of lockers or other areas, allowing them “has the potential to change kids’ lives,” according to Board of Ed Chair Dionna Carlson.
“It is an important thing,” she said during the board’s regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “We all agree we want drug-free schools. But I think it is also an important thing to say that we have hired experts in their field to deal with kids in crisis. And so we want to do the right thing to keep our schools drug-free, but we also do not want to permanently damage kids that make mistakes.
The Board of Education on Monday took formal steps toward allowing police K-9 dogs to search school property for drugs.
During the first read of a draft policy during the board’s regular meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said “the idea is that the superintendent would be empowered to authorize a search of the schools, any one of the schools, with police and police dogs.”
“The policy from the Board of Ed really speaks to a belief in the importance of having substance-free schools,” Luizzi said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “I have been in schools that had searches. It can be difficult, complex to put in place, but certainly worthwhile.”
Under the draft policy— based on a template supplied by the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education—the Board of Ed would “permit the administration to invite law enforcement agencies or other qualified agencies or individuals to search school property with dogs trained for the purpose of detecting the presence of illegal substances, when necessary to protect the health and safety of students, employees or property and to detect the presence of illegal substances or contraband, including alcohol and/or drugs.”
Luizzi said he has met with Police Chief Leon Krolikowski and that the draft policy had been reviewed by the chief. It’s similar to what’s been adopted by school districts in towns such as Wilton, Greenwich, Monroe, Shelton and Brookfield, Luizzi said. The school board’s action follows strongly worded comments in April from both police officials and residents urging the district to allow the K-9 searches.
Just 37 percent of the total athletics coaching positions at New Canaan High School are filled by Board of Education staff—a figure that has dropped off in recent years though it would benefit the district to see it higher, officials say. Out of 106 coaching positions, 39 are filled by district staff, a number that represents 29 unique coaches, as some of them coach multiple sports, according to NCHS Athletic Director Jay Egan. A closer look at the numbers shows that just 21 of those unique coaches are teachers, Egan told Board of Ed members at their most recent meeting. “So that means almost 20 percent of the coaches are teachers,” Egan said at the June 18 meeting, held in the Wagner Room at NCHS. “Now, 15 years ago that was a much different model.