Starting this year, New Canaan High School students are not permitted to use cellphones in class during the day, Principal Bill Egan said Monday night. In the past, the decision on cellphone use had been left up to individual teachers’ discretion, but the feedback from those educators has been that it’s simply “not a great thing for anyone,” Egan told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting. “The cellphones are a distraction, so we want them out of the classroom,” Egan said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at NCHS. “So they will not be there during the class. They will have cellphone cradles that we will put them in.
When the academic year starts next week, New Canaan Public Schools are expecting to see 116 more students K-12 than had been projected, district officials reported Monday.
The above-projected figure of 4,180 total students reflects higher-than-projected registration across all levels, with the elementary schools 79 students over projections, Saxe Middle School 18 and New Canaan High School 19, according to Darlene Pianka, the district’s director of human resources. The overall figure does not include pre-kindergarten. “Big numbers,” Pianka said during the Board of Education’s regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at NCHS. The figures show that “there is clearly demand for New Canaan Public Schools,” Board Chairman Brendan Hayes said. “This is great news, I mean seeing 116 students overall greater than what we predicted is pretty amazing and remarkable,” he added.
Officials are moving forward with the first phase of a plan to install solar panels on the roofs of New Canaan’s public schools.
New Canaan Public Schools Director of Finance and Operations Dr. Jo-Ann Keating told the Board of Education at its regular meeting July 15 that a revised contract with the party providing the panels had been finalized. The revised contract is “about 73% less than our current rate that we pay per kilowatt hour,” Keating said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “The panel system is going to cover about 80% of our demand requirement, so we’ll still be going out to the grid for about 20% of what we need,” she added. The revised contract follows months of progress in bringing the sustainable power source to New Canaan Public Schools. At the Board’s April 22 meeting, Keating said that solar panels are to be installed on the roof of South School this summer, with a plan for installation on East and West schools and Saxe Middle Schools over the next three years.
New Canaan voters on Nov. 5 will cast ballots in three contested—for the Board of Selectmen, Board of Education and Town Council—following Tuesday night’s Democratic and Republican caucuses. Local Democrats at Town Hall nominated not only Craig Donovan for first selectman and Kit Devereaux for selectman, as announced, but also nominated two candidates for Board of Ed and three for Town Council. Of the four Board of Ed seats up for election, three currently are held by Republicans, meaning the Democrats are seeking to “pick up” a seat. School board Chairman Brendan Hayes and Steve Eno, a parent involved in the effort to start school later for adolescents, were nominated by New Canaan Democrats for the Board of Ed.
On Monday night, the Board of Education took an important step in its consideration of school start and end times by narrowing its focus and directing the administration to further evaluate the pros and cons of one particular scenario as presented in the community-wide survey this past May. The Board of Education did not make a decision to change school start times on Monday evening. Instead, the Board is continuing to learn about the impacts of a potential change on students, parents, families, staff, and the community, and to solicit feedback from all stakeholders in order to best anticipate the consequences of making a change prior to making a decision. The Board is continuing to follow the process that it had outlined previously, and will continue to learn about the impacts of a potential change in the months ahead.
As a Board, we are exploring making a possible change to school start times as one dimension of our broader initiative focused on creating the conditions for improved student health and wellness. This discussion is occurring in school districts locally and nationally in response to a growing body of research that highlights the important connections between sleep and student health and wellness, the complex challenges faced by today’s adolescents, and the positive impact a change in school start times can have on student sleep habits.