Widely seen as inferior to the high school’s, the quality of cafeteria food at Saxe Middle School has improved dramatically under the district’s new food services director, officials said last week. The menu at Saxe has changed “significantly” under Michelle Santelli, and the cafeteria now has a salad bar with “nice fresh options,” according to Dr. Jo-Ann Keating, director of finance and operations at New Canaan Public Schools. “We moved our cook from the high school over to Saxe last year,” Keating told members of the Board of Education during their Sept. 3 meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “And she is phenomenal, she does a great job and she has brought a lot of that authentic cooking.
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.
The Board of Finance on Tuesday voted unanimously in support of nearly $2.2 in bonding for the replacement of the roof at South School—a project that’s expected to take place this summer and to be completed by the start of next academic year. As Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi had outlined during the budget season just passed, the 20-year-old roof has reached the end of its useful life and has started to fail, with water coming in through the ceiling in places following heavy rain. The project, which is expected to come in at about $2 million, went out to bid in January and will be completed by North Haven-based Greenwood Industries Inc., New Canaan Public Schools Director of Finance and Operations Dr. Jo-Ann Keating said. The overall $2,046,000 figure is less than the nearly $2.2 million that town funding bodies approved in the capital budget for fiscal year 2020—it represents $1.6 million with a 20% contingency and $100,000 in soft costs, according to Keating. The town will only bond what is spent, officials said.
District officials said Monday that they’re looking into whether parents’ charge accounts were depleted by the lunch ladies accused of stealing nearly $500,000 in cash over a period of several years from two public school cafeterias. Asked by members of the Audit Committee about the possible “double charging” of accounts by two sisters who had overseen the cafeterias at Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said the district is “taking a cursory look at that, to really determine whether or not a need for a deeper dive into it is present.”
“We have lots of documentation and it is a process of going through that documentation,” Luizzi told Committee members during their regular meeting at Town Hall. “We are working with Joe as well to do that for us and just take a look, just to know if any there is any direction we should take next.”
He referred to Joe Centofanti, a partner at PFK O’Connor Davies LLP, an accounting firm. Asked about the accounting work by NewCanaanite.com, Luizzi said in a statement: “The auditor is reviewing the system to look for any inconsistencies that indicate a need to perform a deeper audit of the system. This individual has performed such investigations before, and is familiar with the system that we use. We have significant documentation as well, and he will also be reviewing this documentation as part of his research.” Asked about the timetable for the work, he said: “This work is just beginning, and at this point we do not have any anticipated conclusion date. It is important that we are thoughtful and careful in this work, and will continue to take the time required to be as accurate as possible in our assessments.”
When New Canaan Public Schools’ budget director returns from summer break next week, she’ll help create reports that could establish or rule out the notion that the lunch ladies arrested last week depleted school parents’ funds while stealing nearly $500,000 from the district itself, officials said Monday night. Tracy Haberman knows the point-of-sale or ‘POS’ software system used at cash registers in Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School “very, very well,” according to Dr. Jo-Ann Keating, director of finance and operations for the district. “We are going to look at pulling reports and I am not certain that all the transactions are time-stamped, but that would be a key piece to doing an audit and reviewing accounts that have been modified,” Keating told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “So, we can see where transactions take place—a parent deposits to a child’s account, it is pulled in through the system, a child goes to a register to purchase something, it’s keyed in there—and we can also see if there are double entries at that point and we can also see if someone went in and modified after-the-fact. So those are the kinds of things that we are going to try and audit and we are going to be looking at situations surrounding those changes, if there are any, and also look at the frequency of that.