Back to the future?
“06880” has learned that Westport and Weston school officials have started preliminary negotiations to consolidate the 2 districts. The reason: substantial budget savings for both towns.
The plan would involve Weston High School students attending Staples. With approximately 1,700 students at Staples, and 800 at Weston, double sessions may be needed.
Weston High, meanwhile, would become a middle school for students from both towns. Coleytown would be the obvious choice for closure, due to its proximity to Weston.
Coleytown El may also be shuttered. Students would be distributed throughout Westport’s 4 other elementary schools.
The two Coleytown schools could then be sold, presumably to private developers. One possible use — though no one will say so publicly — is for a new YMCA.
“Weston students went to Staples until 1970,” Westport superintendent of schools Dr. Elliott Landon said. “This sounds radical, but it is something that the 2 towns did for many years. In today’s economic climate, we have to look at every option.”
The proposal is far from firm, Landon emphasized. He did confirm that talks have been held with his Weston counterpart, Jerome R. Belair.
“I think this is the kind of innovative, out-of-the-box thinking that we encourage all our students to engage in,” said Staples principal John Dodig.
“I don’t know much about Weston, but the superintendent has asked me to find out. I’m sure they have areas of strength that we could build upon, just as we have a number of strong programs that Weston students could benefit from.”
“We either consolidate buildings, or cut personnel and programs,” explained Westport Board of Education chairman Don O’Day.
“Is this a solution I would choose? No. But in today’s economic climate, we may have no other choice.”
The 2 towns have cooperated educationally long after Weston High opened. Two examples: the high schools field a Staples-Weston co-op ice hockey team, while for several years the Staples gymnastics team practiced in Weston.
“06880” will provide updates as the talks continue. But we wonder: If Weston rejoins Westport, what about Wilton? Until 1955, Wilton students attended Staples too.
(For more on the proposed Westport-Weston schools consolidation plan, click here.)