Maria Naughton

Recent Articles

District Pursues ‘Alternative High School’ Program, Outback or No Outback

Though it appears the former Outback Teen Center is off the table for now as a future location for an alternative high school program, creating that program remains a priority for the district, officials said last week. New Canaan Public Schools administrators are actively looking at other locations for the program—designed to serve students facing specific health challenges such as anxiety, depression, mood and eating disorders—and a request to fund the equivalent of four positions to operate it remains in the Board of Education’s proposed spending plan for next year, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said. Though the district “would love to have the [Outback] building to establish the program, one is not dependent upon the other, so the alternative high school positions do remain in the budget at this point,” Luizzi said at the Board of Ed’s Feb. 5 meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “If it is not located at the Outback, we are looking at other possibilities, so just really exploring and we are looking at a couple of other places in town and other possibilities. Continue Reading →

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Board of Ed Votes 8-1 in Favor of $90.7 Million Proposed Budget

Noting that all but about .6 percent of a proposed 3.5 percent spending increase for next year is related to contractual wage increases or healthcare costs, members of the Board of Education on Monday night voted 8-1 to back a $90.7 million budget for next fiscal year. In backing the very same proposed budget that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi had presented to the school board two weeks ago, the spending plan is higher than what town finance officials had set and recently underscored as a “strong guideline” of 2 percent for municipal departments. Yet that “edict,” school board member Brendan Hayes said, represents “an arbitrary number.”

“It just doesn’t really factor in the realities of both macroeconomics or the financial realities of the New Canaan Public Schools budget,” Hayes said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. At about 1.9 percent year-over-year, wage increases in the district are far lower than national averages, Hayes said, and given that about 2.9 percent of the overall proposed increase is tied to the wages and healthcare of those who work for New Canaan Public Schools, a reduction to 2 percent would require cuts to programs, he said. “So I just personally don’t really understand that 2 percent because it’s not explained, whereas I look at this budget and the thought that has gone into it, which frankly is—beyond this year—it’s the culmination of a decade or more of work and programs in the schools,” he said. Continue Reading →

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Proposed ‘Alternative High School’ Program Built into Superintendent’s $90.7 Million Spending Plan

The superintendent of schools on Monday night proposed an approximately $90.7 million budget for New Canaan Public Schools next year, a 3.5 percent increase over current spending. Of the approximately $3 million increase in spending over this fiscal year, about $2 million is due to salary increases, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting. And of that $2 million, $1.3 million is due to contracted wage increases, while $203,000 is from salary adjustments from units in negotiations and $186,000 represents anticipated raises for teachers at they progress in their careers, for example, after earning advanced degrees. Another approximately $827,000 of the overall increase comes from spending on benefits, Luizzi said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. His proposed budget is the first step for the Board of Ed toward developing its full spending plan for review and final approval (in April) by town funding bodies. Continue Reading →

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Board of Ed Member Calls for More Input from Parents Regarding Computer Use at Middle School

Parents should have a say in some curriculum decisions regarding the use of computers in the classroom, rather than mere access to the trusted New Canaan Public Schools educators now making them, according to one member of the Board of Education. Some parents closely monitor their children’s “screen time” at home and the study of how computer use affects young people is a rapidly developing area, Maria Naughton said during the school board’s regular meeting last week. “We don’t have a district curriculum committee in the district, which I think we should,” Naughton said during the group’s meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “And I would like to know: How will this impact the curriculum for fifth and sixth grade?” said Naughton, who has called for greater parent collaboration in the past. “I have had parents contact me. Continue Reading →

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Board of Ed Member Calls for Increased Parent Collaboration on ‘Social and Emotional Learning’ in New Canaan Schools

The district must ensure that there’s an open channel for parents’ feedback on curriculum, including in the area of “social and emotional learning” or ‘SEL,’ according to one member of the Board of Education. Students are “consumers of the education” supplied by the New Canaan Public Schools, according to Maria Naughton. The kids “might show parents something at home that we may not see not in school, so if there is no collaborative approach,” then the district could miss an opportunity to improve, she said. “I was thinking, ‘I do not teach math at home but social-emotional skills I do teach at home,’ ” Naughton said during the Baord of Ed’s Sept. 5 meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. Continue Reading →

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