District: Science ‘Impacted Dramatically’ by COVID-19 Pandemic

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.

New Canaan Public Schools Enrollment Projections Call for Slight Decline Next Academic Year

Despite a high number of move-ins in this strong local real estate market, enrollment projections for New Canaan Public Schools call for an overall slight decline next academic year, district officials say. As of June 18, the district had 4,070 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, and is projected to reach 4,095, according to data made public at last week’s Board of Education meeting. The figures compare to 4,176 students enrolled K-12 in the school year that just ended, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jill Correnty said during the June 21 Board of Ed meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. District officials said that by the time the 2021-2022 starts, the enrollment figures could end up rising, for a number of reasons. Many of the move-ins likely not have enrolled their children yet, Correnty said, and the figures do not include those who are “pre-registered” or in the process of finalizing residency and other documentation for the district.

Board of Ed Debates Adoption of Proposed Goals on ‘Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’

The New Canaan Board of Education last week debated whether to adopt formal goals for the upcoming school year designed to address issues of race through staff training, changes to curriculum and parent education, among other areas. 

Draft goals discussed at the Board’s July 13 meeting (they can be found here, under Goal 4-2, and embedded below as a PDF) include creation of what would be the districts’ first “statement on equity, diversity and inclusion,” as well as an update on Social Studies curriculum and identification of “additional opportunities in other content areas to increase content on diversity and inclusion K-12.”

Some Board members voiced support for adopting the goals, while others said they were concerned about introducing the changes during an academic year that likely will include some form of distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic that strains the “bandwidth” of educators and where spending on schools is tight. Sheri West said she strongly supported the new goals and that it’s “crucial that at this moment in history, that we as a Board, as educational leaders in our district that we communicate the importance of these values and really truly that they are at the cornerstone of what we do—our values and our belief system and our actions.”

“I especially like the addition of the professional development and of the parent education,” West said during the 3.5-hour meeting, held via videoconference. “One thing I would like added is I believe in order for us to execute on these goals, we are going to need budget dollars to bring in an expert consultant. I don’t think this is work that we can do alone. I think many districts have already or are hiring DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] leaders for their districts.