Citing legal advice from the town attorney’s firm, town officials this week withheld their support for a request for American Rescue Plan Act funds for a local church’s proposed new preschool program.
Pending further information, the Board of Selectmen during its regular meeting declined to move Saint Aloysius School’s request for $150,000 to New Canaan’s two other funding bodies, the Board of Finance and Town Council, effectively stalling it. Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams both spoke favorably of Saint Aloysius’s plans for a new school and “education and faith center” for its downtown campus. “I think it’s terrific in terms of what you plan to do—I saw the whole plans for the campus, it looks great,” Corbet said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “I just wonder—we have not had a chance to talk about it—but there’s a lot of preschools in New Canaan, both commercial and not-for-profit and I am just wondering this is really to my colleagues here whether we ought to be thinking about if there is going to be a distribution from the ARPA funds, whether it’s not more appropriate to consider all of the preschools that we have here in town rather than just singling one out,” Corbet continued.
Williams agreed with Corbet, noting that New Canaan has “a number of preschools in town that have survived COVID and it’s been difficult, so I would want to rethink this and maybe look at supporting more than one particular preschool.”
Addressing the Rev. Rob Kinnally, who presented the ARPA request to the selectmen, Williams added, “The other thing and I have to mention this, Father, and I’m not sure about the law on this with respect to the use of ARPA funds to support educational facilities that encourage or include religious teaching. I think we have a mix in town.