‘I Am Being Put in a Very Difficult Position’: Board of Ed Divided on Proposed School Start Times Scenario

Board of Education members are divided as to whether they have enough feedback and information on a revised school start times schedule to recommend this month that hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending for additional buses be included in a proposed budget for next fiscal year. No one disagrees that starting grades seven through 12 at 8:30 a.m. as opposed to 7:30 a.m. would benefit students in important ways—established medical research recommends later start times for adolescents. 

Under a favored scenario that district officials have developed, New Canaan’s elementary schools would start at 7:45 a.m., though because morning buses could start their routes from the geographically distributed neighborhood schools rather than New Canaan High School, the first student wouldn’t need to be picked up until 7:06 a.m. (currently 6:27 a.m.) when it’s sufficiently light outside that flashlights aren’t needed. 

Yet that proposed new schedule also forces a bus usage system that’s far less efficient than the one New Canaan Public Schools now employs, and it would require about six or seven additional buses—at a clip of $100,000 in additional annual spending, per bus—to make the favored start times scenario work. Board of Ed member Dionna Carlson at the elected body’s Dec. 16 meeting called it “a very expensive option that will go up 3% every year, in perpetuity.”

A similar start times scenario garnered low levels of support in surveys conducted earlier this year, she said, and there are unanswered questions about just how it will affect students seeking extra help from teachers, among other concerns. To include funding for the busing system as part of the school board’s Jan.

Chairman: Board of Ed Moving Forward on Limited Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs in Schools

The Board of Education may adopt a policy that would see drug-sniffing dogs allowed in public schools so long as students are not present during searches or criminalized as a result of them, the elected body’s chairman said Wednesday. 

Board members have talked about the issue in the last two weeks though they’re “somewhat concerned over because they don’t want dogs necessarily coming into schools and causing a problem as it relates to student stress or health,” according to Brendan Hayes. “So we are thinking about that carefully but that may be something that the Board moves forward on, so that we have a policy that governs dog searches which would never occur when kids are actually walking around,” he said during a Candidates Debate, held at Town Hall. “The dogs cannot come into contact with the kids. So we would do that very carefully if we chose to do it.”

The Democrat later added, “I met with Chief [Leon] Krolikowski and the superintendent a number of months ago, talking about this specific issue of we will do nothing if it results in kids being criminalized when they are in school. We will absolutely not do that.