The town this summer sold as many resident family passes for Waveny Pool as it did the prior year, officials say, and even saw attendance up by 400-plus visitors from 2019. Many dads were home due to COVID-19 virus-related restrictions and “they needed to get out of the home office and relax,” according to Recreation Director Steven Benko,. “I think a lot of dads were off work so they came to the pool with the kids,” Benko said during an Oct. 7 meeting of a Town Council committee, held via videoconference. “Plus it was a hot summer, and there wasn’t a lot of rainy days.”
Citing expected high demand and new restrictions that limit capacity, officials decided in June to only sell passes to the pool, at least for the start of the 2020 season, to residents of New Canaan.
Enrollment in New Canaan Public Schools increased by 59 students this year, and the district now has 4,172 students from kindergarten to twelfth grade, officials said Monday. The figure is 108 students higher than projections made by a Marlborough-Mass.-based educational organization, NCPS Director of Human Resources Darlene Pianka said during the Board of Education’s regular meeting.
Among grade levels, the three elementary schools saw the highest year-over-year increase, up 21 students from the 2018-19 academic year, and were 72 students higher than projections, Pianka said during a presentation on enrollment, New England School Development Council projections and district staffing levels. “Overall, according to our demographer, we are in a period of stable but slightly decreasing enrollment at the middle and elementary schools, with some small growth at the high school level, in general,” Pianka said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “I think that we can say this is all good information and positive in terms of our enrollment and the fact that we do have a lot of new students, which you are aware of from our budget season last year. And moving forward the complexity of this will be with the NESDEC projections and our best info to estimate what our enrollment will become and to plan for that accordingly.”
Board of Ed Vice Chair Dionna Carlson that, despite the increase of nearly 60 students in the district, the Board of Ed added just 1.85 full-time equivalents to the staff for this academic year.
This week on 0684-Radi0, our free weekly podcast (subscribe here in the iTunes Store), we talk to Maria Naughton, a Board of Education member seeking election to New Canaan’s local legislative body, the Town Council. Following Tuesday night’s caucuses, Naughton and her fellow Republican nominees—Steve Karl, Mike Mauro and Cristina A. Ross—are entering a contested race versus Democratic nominees Robin Bates-Mason, Colm Dobbyn and Mark Grzymski. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Baskin-Robbins, a favorite family dessert destination for New Canaanites. Here are recent episodes of 0684-Radi0:
The chairman of the Board of Education on Monday voiced his support for a spoken word poetry presentation and workshop at New Canaan High School that’s generated some questions and criticism. Held last month, the presentation from Carlos Andrés Goméz was designed to help participants learn about and experience spoken word poetry, district officials have said, and most of the feedback from students and staff has been positive. Yet some viewed the presentation as political and slanted, promoting Board of Ed Chairman Brendan Hayes to say that he “spent some time looking at the situation and the poems that he put forth and presented and I didn’t see any political issues at all.”
Goméz’s presentation was designed to “focus on the issue of empathy and mutual respect and really just understanding various perspectives,” Hayes said during the Board’s regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “I saw an effort to teach kids and present in an impactful way what empathy means, what mutual respect means and I think that is very important for us to teach whether that’s part of this ‘emotional intelligence’ initiative specifically or not and I think it gets kids talking about their various interests and their various concerns and probably in a way they would not necessarily do had that speaker not come to school and given that presentation. So I think that is the type of thing that we should be doing.”
Though no video recording of the presentation exists—district officials said that’s because of copyright restrictions—Board of Ed member Maria Naughton said “it was a little edgy,” with poems addressing “controversial topics” such as “toxic masculinity” and racial profiling.
Saying they need more information and time to reflect on what would follow from allowing a police K-9 dog to search for narcotics in New Canaan schools, members of the Board of Education on Monday night decided to forgo voting on a new policy that would introduce the practice. Even if authorization from school administrators was required for K-9 searches of lockers or other areas, allowing them “has the potential to change kids’ lives,” according to Board of Ed Chair Dionna Carlson.
“It is an important thing,” she said during the board’s regular meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “We all agree we want drug-free schools. But I think it is also an important thing to say that we have hired experts in their field to deal with kids in crisis. And so we want to do the right thing to keep our schools drug-free, but we also do not want to permanently damage kids that make mistakes.