Board of Ed Votes 6-2 in Favor of New School Start Times Schedule; Plan To Take Effect Next April

The Board of Education on Monday voted 6-2 to change to a school start times schedule that will see elementary schools start first in the morning (at 7:50 a.m.), followed by grades seven through 12 (8:30 a.m.) and then grades five and six (9:15 a.m.). Dubbed “Scenario A” by New Canaan Public Schools officials, the schedule would take effect next April. The Board had also been considering a “Scenario B,” which would have seen grades five and six start first (7:45 a.m.), follows by grades seven through 12 (8:30 a.m.) and the elementary schools last (9:15 a.m.). Saying additional school buses could be hired on a trial basis, Board member Dionna Carlson urged the elected body to either adopt Scenario A on the condition that the district “solve for” an elementary school start time no earlier than 8 a.m., or else adopt Scenario B.

“We need to sharpen our pencils—7:50 is nice but 8 o’clock is not an unreasonable request and I think that because we have these local schools, you could add a few more buses in the early tier and then those buses would be done getting those kids back quicker than they normally would be if it was a Saxe or high school drop off at the end of the day,” Carlson said during the meeting, held both in persona and via videoconference. “The research that I read about elementary start times is when you are looking at giving high schoolers more sleep, don’t ever do it at expense of the younger kids,” she added.

Board of Ed Re-Elects Katrina Parkhill as Chair by 9-0 Vote

The Board of Education on Monday unanimously re-elected Katrina Parkhill as its chair. The school board also voted 9-0 to re-elect Brendan Hayes as vice chair and Julie Mackle Reeves as secretary. In nominating Parkhill to a second term, Hayes noted that “it’s been quite a year, to say the least.”

“In a typical year the board chair has a ton of responsibilities,” Hayes said during the meeting, which had members attend in person in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School as well as remotely. “Many hours spent with the administration, the Board and various committees to work through things on behalf of the Board and really be the leader of the Board. Really what was that means is a ton of hours.

Reopened Public Schools To Include More ‘Outdoor Learning’

District officials say they’re looking at additional “outdoor learning” New Canaan Public Schools in seeking to reopen Aug. 31 under a widely discussed phased plan. The schools could have tents set up in areas such as fields and courtyards, and the district is “looking at WiFi availability outside, looking to get it in some places where it doesn’t exist right now,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting Monday. “All of those things will help—will help our kids, help our teachers, help our comfort level, everything else,” Luizzi said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “To get outside on a nice day and do some teaching outdoors.