District Enrollment Projected To Decrease by 81 Students Next Year

Enrollment in New Canaan Public Schools is projected to decrease by 81 students next year, according to data released this week. The projected decline for the 2021-22 school year—from 4,176 to 4,095 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade—reflects decreases at all levels, according to Darlene Pianka, the district’s human resources director. The elementary schools are projected to see 34 fewer students overall next academic year, Pianka told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting Monday. Citing projects from Marlborough, Mass.-based New England School Development Council or ‘NESDEC,’ she said Saxe Middle School is expected to decline by 15 students and New Canaan High School by 32. “Generally speaking, the trend that is indicated by our demographers is that we are in a period of stable but slightly decreasing enrollment in the middle and the elementary schools,” Pianka said during the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at NCHS as well as via videoconference. 

In a memo sent to the Board of Ed prior to her presentation, Pianka said, “If we look at projections a few years out we might describe our enrollment as on a slow steady decrease from 4,176 students this year, decreasing to 4,101 students in the 2022-23 school year, a projected decrease of 75 net students, followed by future decreases in enrollment.”

Current enrollment stands at 4,234 students including pre-K students and those placed out-of-district—up 10 from last year’s total, Pianka said.

2020-21 Academic Year: District’s Phased Plan Calls For All Students To Be in Public Schools in Early-October

 

If health data supports it, New Canaan Public Schools will aim to allow students to attend all classes in-person in early October, district officials said Monday. School will look different at that time, officials said during a regular meeting of the Board of Education, held via videoconference. For example, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi said, those in school will be wearing masks and observing physical distancing, hallways will be marked one-way, classrooms will be assigned designated bathrooms, visitors will be prohibited and all assemblies will be held virtually. Though Fairfield County has what health officials are calling “low community spread” of COVID-19 virus—meaning the state is allowing local districts to fully reopen with in-person learning—the first several weeks of the upcoming academic year will be spent re-acclimating students and parents, as well as teachers and faculty, to the changed environment, officials said. Available here in a continuously updated operations guide, the four-phase plan is geared toward the school community’s “on-boarding and reengagement,” Luizzi said.

Board of Ed Debates Adoption of Proposed Goals on ‘Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’

The New Canaan Board of Education last week debated whether to adopt formal goals for the upcoming school year designed to address issues of race through staff training, changes to curriculum and parent education, among other areas. 

Draft goals discussed at the Board’s July 13 meeting (they can be found here, under Goal 4-2, and embedded below as a PDF) include creation of what would be the districts’ first “statement on equity, diversity and inclusion,” as well as an update on Social Studies curriculum and identification of “additional opportunities in other content areas to increase content on diversity and inclusion K-12.”

Some Board members voiced support for adopting the goals, while others said they were concerned about introducing the changes during an academic year that likely will include some form of distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic that strains the “bandwidth” of educators and where spending on schools is tight. Sheri West said she strongly supported the new goals and that it’s “crucial that at this moment in history, that we as a Board, as educational leaders in our district that we communicate the importance of these values and really truly that they are at the cornerstone of what we do—our values and our belief system and our actions.”

“I especially like the addition of the professional development and of the parent education,” West said during the 3.5-hour meeting, held via videoconference. “One thing I would like added is I believe in order for us to execute on these goals, we are going to need budget dollars to bring in an expert consultant. I don’t think this is work that we can do alone. I think many districts have already or are hiring DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] leaders for their districts.

Local Organizations and COVID-19: LiveGirl

For today’s Q&A with a local organization, we talk to New Canaan’s Sheri West, CEO and founder of LiveGirl. West shares with us some of the key spring and summer dates for LiveGirl, which also plans to mail more than 500 copies of its “Camp LiveGirl” activity book this summer. 

Here’s our interview. 

New Canaanite: You have a staff at LiveGirl. One of the things that we are hearing from nonprofits is that part of what is really hard right now is their revenue streams are eroding or disappearing altogether, at least for the spring. How are you all faring at LiveGirl? Sheri West: We have two full-time employees and we were fortunate to qualify for a payroll protection loan, though Bankwell, so we are very fortunate.

Podcast: Sheri and Olivia West of ‘LiveGirl’



This week on 0684-Radi0, our free weekly podcast (subscribe here in the iTunes Store), we talk to Sheri and Olivia West, the mother-daughter team behind nonprofit organization LiveGirl, and its terrific new podcast, “Confident.” This week’s installment is sponsored by Pryority Wellness, a holistic wellness center devoted to helping you maintain a lifestyle of optimal health, offering individual programs and services, such as wellness assessments & coaching, massage & energy therapies, pilates, meditation and more. For more information, visit Pryority Wellness at 45 Grove Street, above Halo Fitness or contact them at 203-594-1552 to book an appointment. Discover your path to wellness at Pryority. Here are recent episodes of 0684-Radi0: