Hazel Hobbs

Recent Articles

District: After Years of Steady Growth, Enrollment in Public Schools Projected To Flatten

The modest, steady growth in enrollment that New Canaan Public Schools has seen in the past decade is expected to level out for a period, and possibly decline somewhat, according to new projections that district officials cited Monday night. Overall, the 4,182 students currently enrolled from kindergarten to 12th grade is projected to grow by just two students next academic year, to 4,184, according to Gary Kass, the public schools’ director of human resources. Longer-term projections from the New England School Development Council, a nonprofit organization based in Marlborough, Mass., call for a decrease of about 90 students overall over the next five years—mostly at the middle school level—and further declines over the subsequent five years, Kass said during a regular meeting of the Board of Education. “At Saxe Middle School, the demographer is projecting a very slight increase of three students for next year and at the high school a decrease of seven students,” Kass told board members during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “So what you can see from what our demographer is projecting is a period of amazingly stable enrollment, when you are talking about a difference year-over-year of under 10 students at each location. Continue Reading →

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‘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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‘Sustained, Stable Enrollment’: New Canaan Public Schools Sees Increase of 36 Students in 2016-17

New Canaan Public Schools is seeing an increase of 36 students year-over-year in 2016-17, though the district’s overall figure for the current academic year—4,210 students, K-12—came in below what had been projected, driven in part by fewer-than-expected kindergartners enrolled, officials said Monday. At 273 kindergartners, this year’s total is 44 under projections and down 12 from last year, according to Gary Kass, the district’s director of human resources. Even so, NCPS is projected to see consistently high overall enrollment into the foreseeable future, as the district enters “a period of sustained, stable enrollment,” Kass said during a meeting of the Board of Education, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “In looking at the projections in the analysis of those projections, it looks like we are on a pretty steady course, and fairly stable in terms of where and when this will be in the coming years,” Kass said. The comments come as Saxe Middle School undergoes an expansion that will be finished next fall—a project that gained support on the strength of an already-overcrowded facility with no enrollment relief on the horizon. Continue Reading →

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Letter: Board of Ed Urges New Canaan To Support Saxe Building Project

The Board of Education has been closely following the Saxe Building Committee’s (SBC) work throughout their process of analyzing the educational space needs at Saxe, recommending changes to meet those needs and designing the improvements deemed critical. The Board of Education fully supports the SBC’s recommended project to renovate the Saxe Auditorium and visual performing arts/music area and to expand the current building to add a net of 12 new classrooms.

Why Saxe Needs More Space

Built in 1957, Saxe Middle School was last renovated from 1997 to 1999 to accommodate 1200 students. Since this time (15-plus years), Saxe’s enrollment has increased. Current enrollment is at 1,327 students, up from the 1,292 students enrolled at this time last year. The latest projections anticipate that enrollment at Saxe will steadily increase over the next few years, peaking in 2024 at 1,376 students, and remaining stable at around 1,350 afterwards. Continue Reading →

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TABLE: What Other Districts Charge for Kids of Nonresident Faculty To Attend Local Schools

In a letter from a resident and at a Town Council meeting, the question has emerged: Should New Canaan continue its practice of allowing the children of educators in the district who don’t live in town to attend local schools for free? Here’s a table that looks at how some nearby towns handle this—the schools listed here belong to the same CT Department of Education “District Reference Group”:

 

Currently, officials say, 51 children attending New Canaan Public Schools fall into the category, mostly in the younger elementary school grades. During a discussion of the matter, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said at the July 15 Town Council meeting that the children of nonresident educators are spread out among the schools so that no new sections are added as a result. Luizzi added that the practice results from a Board of Education policy and is at the discretion of the school board. Specifically, policy 5120 (on page 123 here), approved in April 1956, states: “When deemed appropriate by the administration, children of non-resident public school teachers are permitted to attend the New Canaan Public Schools at no cost to the parent. Such placements will be reviewed annually by the Superintendent. Continue Reading →

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