New Canaan’s rivalry with next-door neighbor Darien finds perhaps its rawest form of expression in the Turkey Bowl, the annual Thanksgiving morning football game between two ultra-competitive and athletic high schools. Set for 10:30 am. this Thursday, at Stamford High School’s Boyle Stadium, the 2015 Turkey Bowl again doubles as the FCIAC championship game (both teams are undefeated this season) and follows a shocking comeback victory for the Blue Wave one year ago. The Rams would regroup and post their own late-game win vs. Darien in the 2014 state final, though many would say there’s something extra-special about the Turkey Bowl itself—a local tradition that sees thousands of NCHS and DHS alumni gather during the family holiday.
New Canaan’s well-liked and highly capable budget director is leaving the town government here to take a job in neighboring Darien, officials say. Jennifer Charneski, budget director here for five years, will take over as director of finance for Darien early next month. Her departure marks “a huge loss for the town,” said Human Resources Director Cheryl Pickering-Jones. “She was definitely a tremendous asset,” Pickering-Jones told NewCanaanite.com after notifying town employees of the move via email. “She had a great relationship with the boards, the staff, the managers, and she worked very well with others.
Just weeks after the town slashed the New Canaan Board of Education’s health insurance reserve account by $1.1 million for the fiscal 2015-2016 year, members of the board are now discussing how they would deal with a potential worst case scenario in which claims exceed the amount budgeted and eat into the reserves. During Monday’s Board of Education meeting at New Canaan High School, Dionna Carlson, who heads up the board’s educational resources sub-committee, said, “Through our work on the health insurance account we have identified a problem with our health insurance reserve as it relates to the health insurance reserve policy that was put into place in April 2014.”
That policy, crafted in cooperation with the Board of Selectmen, calls for the board to maintain 60% of the approximately $3 million health insurance reserve, known as the stop loss health corridor, as part of its budget, while the town maintains the other 40% in a special reserve on the town’s books. (To save money, the Town of New Canaan self insures as opposed to using full insurance.)
On top of this, the town maintains a special “incurred but not reported” (IBNR) reserve account, of about $1 million, that is used to cover claims that occurred in the fiscal year but which are not processed until after the fiscal year has ended. Members of the Board of Education and the school administration feel that the recent deep cut to the board’s reserve account puts the board at risk of defaulting on claims in the rare event that a high volume of claims draw down the health insurance budget and eat into the reserves. The town’s rationale for making the cut was basically that the board’s health insurance reserve fund is routinely overfunded at the end of each fiscal year.