Saying it will make New Canaan Public Schools even safer, the Board of Education is seeking to hire an additional “campus monitor” for next academic year. Currently, the district has nine campus monitors at the public schools—one at each elementary school and three each at Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School. The tenth monitor would allow the “lead campus monitor,” who works in a supervisory capacity, to “go around, check protocols, check buildings, do training with staff, work more closely with the principals,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told the Board of Selectmen during a budget meeting, held Jan. 26 at Town Hall and via videoconference. The lead monitor would “be involved on a district level,” Luizzi said.
Based on the number of babies born to New Canaan families last year, the public schools are poised in the 2026-27 academic year to welcome a kindergarten class larger than the district’s facilities currently can handle, officials say. New Canaan’s 201 known “live births” in 2021, added to the town’s regular move-ins of young families coming for the outstanding public schools, is projected to result in a kindergarten class of 397 students five years later, officials said at the Board of Education’s regular meeting last week. “We could not accommodate those students given the facilities we currently have,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said during the Nov. 7 meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “It’s just too many more students than our schools could handle.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on science, district officials say. Many students missed out on lab experiences in 2020 as sixth-graders, as the pandemic set in here, when they went out for four months of remote learning for two units of study, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jill Correnty told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting, held Oct. 17 at New Canaan High School. Those units, in ecosystems and earth science, “are really critical,” Correnty said during a presentation on K-8 assessments.
“They were in a hybrid environment and then, as you recall, we had half-day Wednesdays,” she said. “So we had to make some decisions with our science curriculum, and you may have recalled me talking about that last year and some of the changes that we made were in the climate unit, and the changes that we made were because we know that they were going to receive this information again as ninth-graders.
Following wide division in New Canaan after removing the words ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ or “DEI” from a working draft of the district’s goals and objectives, the Board of Education at its most recent meeting signaled that it would try to reset and de-politicize the tone of its discussion and future work. In what appeared to be a highly scripted section of the meeting—multiple Board of Ed members read from prepared statements—the elected body on Sept. 7 voted unanimously in favor of including the following language in the district’s goals and objectives:
“Continuously strengthen all schools and classroom communities to ensure every student feels they belong and are safe, connected, welcomed and engaged in inclusive, respectful, equitable and supportive learning environments. NCPS will deepen students’ understanding of a range of differences among people by fostering empathy and respect for all and to celebrate the unique and varied contributions each of us makes to the community and beyond. In this regard, NCPS will initiate a process including the Board of Education and other stakeholders and, informed by research, to develop a district-wide statement supporting this goal with short- and long-term action items.”
Board members said that the last sentence, presented by Board Chair Katrina Parkhill, reflects their commitment to “the spirit” of what had previously been written into the district’s goals and objectives as “diversity, equity and inclusion” or “DEI” (now removed).
Board member Erica Schwedel said, “To me, diversity is valuing and celebrating students for all of their differences, equity is giving students differentiated tools and support to reach their own greatest potential, and inclusion is making sure every student feels valued, accepted, a part of the community and that their voice matters.
In a series of proposed changes that has generated wide community discussion, the Board of Education is poised this week to replace language around diversity, equity and inclusion or “DEI” in the school district’s goals. Board members agreed at their most recent meeting that the following sentences rightly should be added to a draft version of the goals that the elected body has been discussing since July:
NCPS [New Canaan Public Schools] will strive to deepen students’ understanding of a range of differences among people. NCPS will work to foster empathy and respect for all and to celebrate the unique and varied contributions each of us makes. Yet the Board of Ed is divided on a third proposed sentence for the goals:
In this regard, NCPS will seek independent expertise, research and develop next steps to advance this initiative. Four Board members—Secretary Dan Bennett, Julie Toal, Hugo Alves and Phil Hogan—objected to the word ‘expertise,’ saying they were against hiring an outside consultant to assess New Canaan Public Schools and make recommendations.
They stopped short of saying that New Canaan’s lack of diversity is not a problem for the public schools.