New Canaan Public Schools’ most pressing day-to-day need is bringing in more substitute teachers, Superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi said last week. The number of teacher absences varies, though January-February “is typically the highest month because of flu season,” Luizzi told members of the Board of Selectmen during their regular meeting, held Jan. 26 at Town Hall and via videoconference.
Asked by Selectman Nick Williams what number of absences “stresses you,” Luizzi responded, “Our system is stressed with more than a handful, to be honest with you, right now, because of the shortage of subs.”
Asked whether “a handful” means three or four, Luizzi said yes. “Saxe is different because of the upper/lower division,” he said. “High school is a little bit different.
Saying it will make New Canaan Public Schools even safer, the Board of Education is seeking to hire an additional “campus monitor” for next academic year. Currently, the district has nine campus monitors at the public schools—one at each elementary school and three each at Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School. The tenth monitor would allow the “lead campus monitor,” who works in a supervisory capacity, to “go around, check protocols, check buildings, do training with staff, work more closely with the principals,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told the Board of Selectmen during a budget meeting, held Jan. 26 at Town Hall and via videoconference. The lead monitor would “be involved on a district level,” Luizzi said.
New Canaan owes a debt of gratitude to Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams for showing real leadership in recent months. What may be mischaracterized by some as political infighting—a series of 2-1 votes with First Selectman Kevin Moynihan in the minority—is, in fact, a sign that our local government is functioning as designed. Though checks and balances are built into the Board of Selectmen as a three-person elected body, putting the single-minded Moynihan in check still takes real fortitude and resolve, especially with a first selectman who has appeared increasingly unstable. We’d seen flashes of Moynihan’s anger and petulance in the past—for example, when he twice physically handled Williams during an October 2021 Board meeting after the latter poked holes in the first selectman’s arguments for building a new police station on a Saxe Middle School playing field, prompting Williams to tell him, “Stop pushing me.” Or the following month, when he denied Corbet’s simple request to move a Board meeting back one day, and—tellingly—described her request as a Code of Ethics violation when, we found out later, he himself was the subject of a newly filed ethics complaint. But it wasn’t until the second half of last year that Corbet and Williams were compelled to consistently manage Moynihan.
In another break with First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams last week voted 2-1 in favor of a new policy that sets out the role of their elected body with respect to the hiring of all town employees.
Drawn up by Corbet after working with municipal staff members and consulting with the town attorney’s firm, the policy formalizes in black and white a policy already on the books New Canaan’s governing documents, the Town Charter and Town Code, and what had been a past practice of the town, she said during the Board of Selectmen’s Jan. 3 meeting.
In short, the policy calls for the full Board to approve all full-time, part-time and seasonal employees of the town.
The process “has not been followed with respect to part-time employees,” Corbet said during the Board’s meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
Under a resolution that Corbet and Williams voted in favor of—and which Moynihan opposed—the selectmen retroactively approved the hiring of 11 part-time and 25 seasonal employees. The part-time employees include a “Waveny wedding coordinator,” part-time town planner and “special projects staff” member, according to a resolution that forms part of Corbet’s Dec. 29 memorandum on the matter, obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request.
Moynihan, in a discussion that grew contentious at times, said he disagreed with Corbet’s interpretation of the Town Code. At issue was the following definition of “Town Employee” as spelled out in Chapter 44 of the document: “Means all salaried officials or employees of the Town whose appointment or dismissal is under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen or the Police Commission.”
According to Moynihan, that definition doesn’t include part-time or seasonal workers.
“You are not an attorney, Kathleen,” Moynihan said.
Town officials last week approved a $125,000 contract with a Bridgeport-based company to install a new generator at Lapham Community Center.
The Board of Selectmen during its regular meeting Jan. 3 voted 3-0 on the contract with Northeast Generator. The existing generator at the Waveny building, which houses New Canaan’s community center for adults, went out about two months ago, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “At present it will be propane/fire, and when we get natural gas up, we’ll convert it over to natural gas,” Mann said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the contract for the generator at Lapham Community Center. The selectmen asked whether the generator in place is working (no), whether it’s in the budget for the current fiscal year (yes) and whether the project included an 8% contingency in order to round it off at $125,000 (yes, that’s the budgeted amount).