Penny Rashin

Recent Articles

‘It Will Not Be Easy and It Will Not Be Pleasant’: Board of Finance Hears Passionate Calls for Fiscal Prudence, Full District Funding as Vote Nears

New Canaan must be careful as a community to have frank, detailed conversations about its financial situation and not “succumb to the tyranny of the parent,” a homeowner and mother of four children in public elementary and middle schools here told members of the Board of Finance on Tuesday. Everyone loves their kids and wants a good school district, yet this idea floating around New Canaan now that spending on the public schools somehow fuels property values is false, according to Rita Nagle. “That is simply not the economic relationship that exists,” Nagle said during a budget hearing held at Town Hall. “Property values fund taxes, which fund school spending. That is the way the relationship works. 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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District: New ‘Personal Safety’ Lessons Introduced to Fifth-Graders in Health Education

Fifth-graders in New Canaan Public Schools starting this year are getting new lessons in personal safety—including “good touch versus bad touch” and going to trusted adults if “put in an unsafe or risky situation”—as part of an updated health curriculum, district officials say. Two new lessons within personal safety, co-taught by a school counselor and health teacher, are “focused primarily around healthy relationships, building that foundation that we are looking for within personal safety that is aligned with the sexual assault and abuse prevention mandate,” Jonathan Adams, the district’s K-8 heath and physical education coordinator, told members of the Board of Education during a presentation (available here under “Health Update”) at their Dec. 4 meeting. “It’s a two-part lesson and it starts with the people around me and it’s the individuals that they have that they have healthy relationships with, and they start building that circle out from the inner side to the closest relationships they have to maybe some people that are acquaintances,” Anderson said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. Answering a question posed by Board of Ed Vice Chair Penny Rashin, about how “stranger danger” school safety lessons cross into other lessons plans that touch on students protecting themselves—Anderson said they relate “in terms of their trust circle.”

“So it’s the same diagram but then it’s who are those adults in their life that they can actually go to within their circle or outside of that, too,” he said. Continue Reading →

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New Sugar Maples on Farm Road To Screen Rooftop Equipment at Saxe Addition

Officials soon will plant four sugar maple trees on Farm Road alongside the new addition to Saxe Middle School, an effort to create the feel of a tree-lined neighborhood street. The 4-inch caliper sugar maples will replace some of the trees that came down on Farm to make way for the new construction at Saxe, according to Tree Warden Bob Horan. Horan told members of the Board of Selectmen at their most recent meeting that he met with Saxe Building Committee Chairman Penny Rashin and Vice Chairman Jim Beall, and that the trees “will hide the building to some extent especially the equipment up on the roof.”

“And I think it will look nice,” Horan said at the selectmen meeting, held at Town Hall. “It’s a continued effort to make some of these streets look nice.”

Funds for the plantings will come from the Board of Education, Horan said. (The school board signs off on the work though funds come from the town-approved Saxe Building Committee budget, officials said.)

Selectman Nick Williams asked whether the sugar maples are expected to create a “tree screen” on Farm Road. Continue Reading →

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School Resource Officer: ‘Nonstop’ Social Media Use Ranks with Drugs and Alcohol As Major Dangers Facing Saxe Middle School Students

Use of social media is nonstop among Saxe Middle School students and, with drugs and alcohol, represents a major danger facing New Canaan youth, safety officials said Monday night. No matter how much trusted adults warn middle school students about the pitfalls of social media, “it doesn’t matter,” New Canaan Police Officer Jeff Deak, the school resource officer at Saxe, told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting. “And I throw into the mix the dangers of social media and you participating in illegal activities like vaping under 18, or drinking or doing drugs, and posting them,” he told the school board at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “Those issues, in my opinion—the alcohol, the drugs and the social media—are the big issues. I know some of you are looking saying, ‘What else is there?’ There are other parts. Continue Reading →

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