District officials are trying to figure out the most sensible way to build more wiggle room into the proposed 2025-26 school year schedule. As a proposed calendar now before the Board of Education has it, that school year would start on a Thursday in August and end on a Thursday the following June, meaning the final week of school could absorb just one snow day before threatening to push the academic year into the following week. However, the district by its own policy doesn’t push the school year beyond the third full week of June. “So there’s different things that are conspiring against us here for that start date,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said during the Board’s regular meeting, held Dec. 4 in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School.
The ‘25-’26 school year is already an anomaly in that several months will see a reduction in the number of school days just because of how the holidays fall.
New Canaan’s longtime Board of Education chair during her final meeting last week expressed gratitude to the district’s administration, fellow school board members, municipal officials and the wider community while also calling for an end to partisanship. Katrina Parkhill, a school board member for nearly seven years and its chair for the past four—encompassing the entire COVID-19 pandemic—said she had three messages after reflecting on her time on the elected body, starting with “stay the course.”
“I believe that the foundation of our school system’s success is predicated on how we, and so many before us, work together to lead our district forward, maintain a culture of mutual trust and respect, and put students at the center of everything we do,” Parkhill said a final Board meeting for herself and fellow BOE member Bob Naughton, held Nov. 6 in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School (the eve of Election Day).
“These are qualities that have defined New Canaan Public Schools for years and we should never take them for granted,” she continued. “As we continue to move through this challenging and transformative period in education and in our nation, we must continue to lean into these qualities and nurture and respect how we got here. Most of our policies and Board practices have been in place for a long time, and they have served us well.
Though candidates for four-year terms on the New Canaan Board of Education agree that reading materials in school should be age-appropriate—and that no single group of parents should override the decisions of the district’s professionals—they have different ideas on the degree to which such decisions should be overseen by the elected body. Republican Matt Wexler during a debate (watch it here) held Monday night at Town Hall said that he opposes book banning and the filtering of any information “except when it comes to age appropriateness.”
“I think that anything that might be of question should be brought to the town, and we should have discussion on it,” Wexler told a standing-room-only crowd packed into the Town Hall Meeting Room for the candidates’ approximately 70-minute debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters of New Canaan.
“The parents should be allowed to weigh in, and we should hear all sides,” Wexler continued. “Because ultimately, we’re all parents, we all want what’s best for our children. There are some parents that may want certain exposure, some parents that may not. And ultimately we need to, one, provide the transparency for parents to make their own decision, but two, provide the option for parents to perhaps pull their kids out for that lesson.”
Responding to the same question from the League—regarding a single group of parents within a district prompting “book bans in libraries and classrooms” as per national headlines—Democratic candidate Lauren Connolly Nussbaum said that it’s not an issue in New Canaan because “our teachers and librarians are doing an exceptional job picking age-appropriate texts”
“In addition to that, they’re sharing their syllabi at the beginning of every year and I’m sure many of us in this room have inboxes full of emails from our teachers telling us what books our students will be reading in that semester or year,” Connolly Nussbaum continued.
This week on 0684-Radi0, our free podcast (subscribe here in the iTunes Store), we talk to Board of Education incumbent Brendan Hayes. The Democratic candidate is seeking to retain one of four four-year seats up for election. There’s also a contested two-person race for a two-year Board of Ed term. Here are recent episodes of 0684-Radi0:
Amy Murphy Carroll, the Democratic candidate for the town’s highest elected position in the upcoming municipal election, told a room full of fellow party members Sunday that in their 27 years in New Canaan, she and husband John have gotten to know many people. “Worked with them, volunteered with them, and just made so many friends across the town,” Murphy Carroll said during the annual DTC BBQ, held at Carriage Barn Arts Center. “Different backgrounds, different interests, different professions, and—oh, gasp—different political parties. And when it comes down to it, all my interactions with people here, we’re just neighbors. We’re friends, we’re fellow New Canaanites.