P&Z: Board of Ed Failed To Properly Notice Neighbors of ‘Alternative High School’ Plan; Vote Postponed To October

Though the “alternative high school” is up and running in downtown New Canaan, town officials last week were prevented from approving a site plan that would formally allow it because of the district’s failure to properly notify neighboring property owners. The Planning & Zoning Commission must “give the public the opportunity next month to address” the district’s location of the alternative high school in 800 square feet of space on the second floor of the same building that New Canaan Public Schools administrators occupy on the corner of Forest Street and Locust Avenue, according to P&Z Chairman John Goodwin. “This Commission’s responsibility is for use and land use and so, whether you like it or not, we are part of the checks and balances process of this town,” Goodwin told Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi at the Commission’s regular meeting, held Sept. 25 at Town Hall. 

Turning to his fellow commissioners, he added: “We cannot vote on this tonight, since notices did not go out in time. Normally we would not have opened the application, given the timing issues.”

Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, properties in the Retail B zone may be used as a “municipal facility,” including a school, with site plan approval by P&Z.

Board of Ed: Schools May Need To Use Fuel Oil Temporarily Because Natural Gas Lines Still Aren’t In

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.

‘More Conversation Is In Order’: Board of Ed Puts Off Discussion, Vote on K-9 Policy

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.

School District Sees Unexpected Decline in Kindergarten Enrollment

Kindergarten enrollment in New Canaan Public Schools this fall is expected to come in at 46 students lower than projections, district officials reported this week. The district has 233 total enrollments in kindergarten this year, officials said during Monday’s meeting of the Board of Education, compared to 279 projected by the New England School Development Council or ‘NESDEC,’ a Marlborough, Mass.-based nonprofit organization. The figure—still subject to change, as families move into town just before the first day of school—also marks an 18 percent drop from last academic year, when 276 kindergartners were enrolled in the public schools, according information presented by Gary Kass, NCPS director of human resources. “Overall we are decreasing enrollment in certain areas but what is particularly evident is a reduction of students in kindergarten,” Kass told Board of Ed members at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. He added: “That could possibly be a trend as we move forward.”

It isn’t clear what is causing the lower-than-expected figures among kindergarteners. 

Board of Ed member Sheri West did ask whether district administrators had a handle on the data behind the lower enrollment there, but officials instead addressed a separate question from her, about why the fourth grade from last year appeared to be declining by about 17 students going into fifth grade this year.