Outback Teen Center

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Town Council Members Mull Using ‘Outback’ Building To House Alternative High School Program

The superintendent of schools on Wednesday night presented a subcommittee of New Canaan’s legislative body with details of a proposal to create an “alternative high school” program for students with specific health challenges in New Canaan to be housed at the former Outback Teen Center behind Town Hall. Dr. Bryan Luizzi and Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Family Services Darlene Pianka outlined their vision for a program to replace New Canaan High School’s current Afternoon Instructional Program, or ‘AIP,’ which is held in the school’s media center. AIP is currently only available to four to 10 upperclassmen at a time, while Luizzi’s proposal will potentially provide full- or half-day instruction for six to 12 students in grades 8-12 based on their educational and therapeutic needs, they told members of the Town Council’s Education Committee. The idea of locating the alternative high school at Outback had been broached with a town committee in November and the program itself was presented to the Board of Education on Monday as part of the approximately $90.7 million proposed budget for New Canaan Public Schools next year. Throughout Luizzi and Pianka’s presentation, Education Committee members Tom Butterworth, Rich Townsend, Joe Paladino and Christa Kenin raised questions about the potential costs of the program and the suitability of the Outback as the program’s physical site. 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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Did You Hear … ?

A former part-time program director at the defunct Outback Teen Center—a man who had been arrested by New Canaan Police following accusations that he made inappropriate comments to a group of youths—is a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed this summer. According to the complaint, the accused man while working as a residential advisor at Wesleyan University in the early-1980s sexually abused teens in his charge, in a dorm room and elsewhere. The case is proceeding in state Superior Court in Middletown. ***

The restaurant long known as ‘Chef Luis’ is now called ‘129,’ for its street number on Elm, and offers American contemporary cuisine from newly hired Executive Chef Joe Page. He brings more than 15 years of experience in kitchens across the United States and overseas. Continue Reading →

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District Wants To Use ‘Outback’ Building for Alternative Special Ed Program

Officials from New Canaan Public Schools on Thursday discussed publicly for the first time a proposal that would see the long-vacant Outback building behind Town Hall used to house a new alternative special education program. During a meeting of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee, held at Town Hall, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi revealed that the school administration has for the past year been developing a new alternative special education program designed to bring out-placed students back in-district. The goal in developing the program, he said, is to improve special education in New Canaan and to realize potential operational savings. He told the committee—which is charged with reviewing the uses, physical condition and capital needs of more than 40 town-owned structures (not including school buildings)—that the former teen center would be an ideal location for such a program because it is the right size and centrally located in town. “[There] is the possibility of that building being used for students in the future—as a way to house a small alternative program that we are discussing at the Board of Ed, internally,” Luizzi told the committee members. Continue Reading →

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Town Councilman Pushes To Resolve Beetle Infestation at Former Outback Teen Center Building

A member of the Town Council on Wednesday night called for the legislative body to push officials to address a documented “powder post beetle” infestation at the former Outback Teen Center Building. Told that the town likely won’t address the problem until a more comprehensive report on the building’s capital needs and possible future use is in hand, Councilman Cristina A. Ross said that it’s been “slightly over one year” since the infestation was identified and “I am really surprised and concerned that this just keeps going and now we are waiting for another report and no action has been taken.”

“So I think it’s within our [Town Council Infrastructure & Utilities] subcommittee to be able to recommend to the Board of Selectmen to act on [an RFP for remediation] and to take care of the infestation at this point,” she said at the group’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. No one knows what’s going to happen with the cavernous structure behind town hall. It’s been two years since the Outback Teen Center closed, unable either to make enough money to run itself or convince town officials to support a re-imagined, broad program that went beyond serving just teens. It reverted to town ownership last July and the vacant building has been vandalized since then. Continue Reading →

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