Tag Archives: Dattco

[OPINION] First Student Is New Nightmare

Dr. Stefanie Lemcke lives on North Avenue. She is the founder and CEO of Gokid, a carpooling technology for schools. Stefanie writes:

When my husband and I learned (after the fact) that Mary Young, director of Westport’s Planning & Zoning Department, had issued a permit allowing the new school bus company First Student to park at Staples and other Westport schools, we were concerned.

First, there had been no notice or public hearing on the matter. In fact, we only learned of the permit when P&Z issued a press release.

Second, we believed any such decision properly lay with the Planning & Zoning Commission, and not with Ms. Young.

And third, we were concerned that this was a backhanded way to save money by permanently moving the parking to school property. (The previous company provided  a parking lot on the Post Road).

We were assured, however, that this was only an interim measure, and that the conditions attached to the permit would protect neighbors and adequately address our concerns. 

It turns out that we were right to be worried. Not only are these buses creating additional traffic around schools, but every weekday since school started, our entire North Avenue neighborhood has been awakened at 5:45 a.m. by the sound of buses firing up, then beeping and backing up, as well as the sound of motors idling.

Every morning, way before school starts, we have also been treated to the toxic pollution produced by those engines. Here’s a video:

Ali Stanley of Willow Walk says: “Since the first day of school I have been awakened by the beeping and honking of the buses parked at Staples. I look forward to October 31 when they can find an alternate home. The noise pollution is unsustainable.”

We raised the problem with the schools, the town and the Board of Education over the past week. We believed that we were on firm ground in doing so. After all, the permit expressly prohibits any activity that “adversely impact[s] the students, neighbors, and the community at large.”

Moreover, the permit states that any complaints will be resolved within 7 days.

Yet the town has done nothing to remedy the situation. In fact, when we raised the issue of idling buses, we were told that this was simply the company “doing their maintenance thing.” (Never mind that maintenance is specifically prohibited on school grounds.) 

We are particularly concerned because the permit is due to expire on October 31, and to the best of our knowledge, the town has done nothing to procure alternative sites for the buses.

Buses parked during the day at Staples High School. (Photo/Stefanie Lemcke)

We believe that it would be unconscionable (and potentially illegal) for the town to extend this permit, given the lack of public input at the time it was adopted and the environmental and health consequences for residents.

It is time for the town to become more transparent about these types of decisions, to include neighbors in the process, and to reveal what efforts have been undertaken to find a permanent location for the buses.

We are a leading school district, so let’s lead by example: We are asking to bring back dedicated, off-campus parking for buses, which will decrease traffic around school sites, improve access, air quality, and safety for students and staff, and generally improve our quality of life. 

Last week, in response to numerous concerns about school buses — including not only school parking, but routes and reliability —  superintendent of school Thomas Scarice addressed the bus question. In an email to Westport Public Schools parents, he wrote:

The district has officially transitioned transportation providers from Dattco to First Student. Our efforts certainly are not perfect, particularly at the beginning of the school year, but performance is much improved and will only continue to get better as the days and weeks ensue.

Bus Parking:  The district secured temporary authorization to park in our school lots through October 31 and we are actively pursuing options for the permanent parking of buses. An extension of authorization for school-based parking may need to be pursued in the interim.

New Buses:  A completely new fleet of buses will roll off the assembly line and into our schools in December. When that happens, the transportation app will return. The current fleet does not have the technology to support the transportation app.

First Student buses. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Drivers:  There is a full roster of drivers this year, which significantly contributes to more reliability. Many Dattco drivers have been hired by First Student. However, there could be a time where a combined route is necessary if a significant number of drivers call out on a given day. There are a couple of routes that continue to need attention to improve performance and I can assure our families that this work is underway. Improvements will continue to be felt in the coming days and weeks.

Traffic: One pervasive challenge that has only worsened is the traffic volume around town. As we moved beyond the pandemic, traffic patterns became problematic. These problems are worse this year than any of my three previous years. We will work to reroute as needed to mitigate the effects of town traffic.

Overall, the entire transportation operation is better, but there is still plenty of room for improvement, particularly at this point in the school year. Communication will improve and parents should look for messages from building administrators when there are delays.

To support our ask to bring back a dedicated school bus parking lot, please email me: stlemcke@gmail.com.

(“06880” covers education, transportation, town politics — and all related issues — 24/7/365. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

School Bus Parking: They’ll Park At Schools

The Westport Public Schools’ move of bus companies — from Dattco to First Student — means a move in bus parking too.

With the current site — the congested lot on Post Road East, opposite Playhouse Square — unavailable after June 30, an alternate location is needed.

Until a permanent spot is found, buses will be parked from July 1 through October 31 at Staples High School, Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools, and Coleytown and Long Lots Elementary Schools.

Dattco buses, entering the Post Road East parking lot. (Photo/Joyce Joiner)

The locations were chosen after analyzing the availability of parking for staff and students.

When the school year begins, buses will leave their school spots between 6 and 7 a.m, After pickups and drop-offs, they’ll return to their schools between 9 and 9:30.

They’ll leave for afternoon runs between 1 and 2 p.m., then return between 4 and 5.

Westport Public Schools’ chief financial officer Elio Longo says that at some locations, like Staples, there is already dedicated bus parking. In other locations, buses will be parked where there is the least impact on students, staff and neighbors.

Parking plan for Staples High and Bedford Middle School (click on or hover over to enlarge).

Even with bus parking, “each of the school locations still has a surplus of parking available,” Longo says.

Planning & Zoning Department officials have placed restrictions on bus parking. All bus operators must comply with the sate law regarding idling. There will be no mechanical servicing of buses on school grounds, and “no amplified music or whistles.”

Parking plan for Coleytown Middle and Elementary Schools (click on or over hover to enlarge).

Longo is “confident that this temporary plan will serve the needs of the students but in a way that does not adversely impact the students, neighbors and community at large.”

District officials are working on other arrangements, once the temporary bus parking solution ends.

Parking plan for Long Lots Elementary School (click on or hover over to enlarge).

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Roundup: DATTCO Buses, Capt. Nash’s House, AAPI Month …

Westport’s school buses may look different next fall.

They’ll still be yellow. But “Dattco” may not be on the sides.

The New Britain-based company’s contract is up for renewal this year. When the Board of Education meets Monday (May 1, 7 p.m., Staples High School), Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice will recommend that the 5-year contract beginning July 1 be awarded to First Student. They’re a national company, with a strong presence in this area.

They were the only 2 providers to bid. Scarice and Westport Public Schools CFO Elio Longo found that:

  • Over 5 years, the district will save $126,011 for the base transportation services provided by First Student.
  • Dattco offered $6 million in coverage for sexual misconduct insurance, but the RFP required $11 million. First Student provided the required amount.
  • Dattco failed to submit a letter from its insurance carrier stating that the minimal insurance limits required in the RFP will be met.
  • Dattco gave a “0” credit for use of a bus lot provided by the district. First Student provided a credit of $1,529,031 over 5 years for use of the lot.

The Board of Ed will have a busy agenda, beyond the bus contract. They’ll also discuss the Staples High School roof project, an equity action plan, and policies on weighted grading and calculation of grade point averages, credit for online courses, graduating requirements, and enrollment in advanced courses and programs.

For full details on the bus contract and other agenda items, click here.

A familiar sight. (Photo/Joyce Joiner)


“06880” doesn’t usually promote real estate open houses.

But we also don’t usually get a chance to see a 1740 home.

18 West Parish Road is the house; today (Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.) is the date.

18 West Parish Road

Built nearly 300 years ago by Captain Thomas Nash for Zachariah Burr — Aaron’s brother — it was an inn during the Revolutionary War.

It’s filled with history. For instance, the Delft blue tile fireplace is original

And — allegedly — Captain Nash galloped up the steep, original stairs on his horse, as he chased his wife in anger.

Captain Nash’s stairs.

In the 1930s another famous owner — Edward T. Bedford — maintained stables and a trotting track just north of the residence.

A 20th century bonus: The kitchen in the attached cottage was a bomb shelter in the 1950s.

Toni Horton Mickiewicz (Staples High School class of 1978) is the realtor.

It sounds like an extremely interesting home. But if you plan to buy it to tear it down: Please, please, PLEASE: Find yourself another open house to go to. (Hat tip: Pam Docters)


Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month begins tomorrow.

AAPI Westport celebrates with a variety of events. They include:

The Story and Legacy of Vincent and Lily Chin (May 1-31, New Canaan Library). Learn more about Vincent and Lily Chin. His racially motivated murder more than 40 years ago galvanized the Asian American community.

Healing Asian Hate Since Vincent Chin (May 8, 6:30 p.m., New Canaan Library):  Panel discussion, including Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, and Stamford DEI officer Carmen Hughes.  Click here for more information. and to register.

AAPI Westport Book Club reads “From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: the Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement,” by Paula Yoo.” This young adult book is suggested for ages 13 and up. Book discussion date and location TBD.

Meet children’s book author Karina Yan Glaser (May 13, 1 to 3 p.m., Westport Library). She will discuss “What Do You Need to be a Writer?,” and talk about how being an Asian American author has influenced her work. A book signing follows. This is an all ages event; best for grades 1-6. Click here for more information.

AAPI Happy Hour at MoCA (May 18, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.).

To learn more about AAPI Westport, click on the video below.


Pamela Turnure Timmins — Jacqueline Kennedy press secretary (and the first ever hired by a first lady), and who may or may not have had an affair with her husband, President Kennedy — died Tuesday in Colorado. She was 85, and had  lung cancer.

What makes her death “06880”-worthy is that she graduated in the mid-1950s from the Bolton School for girls in Westport.

Her Washington Post obituary does not explain what she was doing in this area as a teenager. But she certainly led an interesting life. (Hat tip: Allen Siegert)

Pamela Turnure Timmins


The Connecticut Appalachian Mountain Club brings one of their most popular speakers to Saugatuck Congregational Church.

David Pressler will discuss “Exploring the Californian Anza — Borrego Desert and Beyond.” The event is May 9.

From snow-covered landscapes, high mountains, lakes and the Salton Sea, to dry desert vistas and unusual lava-formed rock landscapes (that were the “American West” of movies from the 1930s to the ’50s) — home once to dinosaurs, mammoths, giant turtles and other animals — it’s a vast, beautiful place.

Wine, dinner and dessert begins at 6:15 p.m. Pressler’s presentation is at 7:30. The cost is $10 for members, $15 for non-members (pay at the door). For more information, email easasso7@icloud.com.

California’s Borrego Desert. (Photo/David Pressler)


Westport’s ospreys continue to fascinate us — and there are more than the most famous (and visible) pair, at Fresh Market.

Daniel Johnson captured (on film) one of the Burying Hill Beach pair. It’s a natural for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Daniel Johnson)


And finally … in honor of the soon-to-come (and likely little-mourned) end of the DATTCO era:

(School buses? Ospreys? Jackie Kennedy’s press secretary? If there’s a Westport connection, “06880” covers it. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Bus Stop

School bus safety is high on the list of every Westporter’s concerns.

Well, almost everyone.

As aggravating as it is to be behind a bus that stops at what seems like every driveway, most drivers grit their teeth and ride their brakes. It’s kids we’re talking about, after all, and this is the way buses operate in today’s society.

Some drivers can’t wait. They blow past the outstretched “Stop” arms that drivers extend. Often they come from the opposite direction. Sometimes they just race past a row of cars trailing the bus.

Trailing a school bus is seldom fun.(Photo/Christie Stanger)

An “06880” reader recently chatted with a man who drives a Dattco elementary bus in Westport.

He enjoys his job very much. But when the reader noted that the job demands plenty of responsibility and patience, he said that drivers routinely ignore bus stop signs.

He said that just a few weeks ago, a speeding driver nearly hit a young girl. Her father yanked her back, as the car came near.

And, the driver continued, following up on incidents is a process. Video is reviewed by police. Then the driver must take half a day off to testify in court — losing pay, and other incentive compensation given for consecutive days on the job.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

The driver’s perception is that even when the process works, if it’s a first offense there are seldom significant consequences for offending drivers.

That sounds pretty bad for Dattco, Westport’s school bus company.

But it’s not true.

I contacted Bryony Chamberlain, the company’s vice president. She said that any employee asked to go to court gets paid by the company.

She added that there are forms for drivers to fill out whenever their bus is passed by a vehicle. Dattco then sends the forms to local police departments, who mail a ticket for a $475 fine to offenders.

“I don’t know what happens after that,” Chamberlain said. “We don’t have a way to follow up.”

My next call was to Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas. He confirmed what Chamberlain said.

There are 3 types of complaints about motorists passing school buses: from the bus drivers themselves; from other witnesses, and from police officers who sometimes follow school buses for just that reason.

The police contact the driver to hear their side. In almost every case, Koskinas said, a ticket follows.

The reader who contacted “06880” about school bus safety recalled a tragedy from the 1990s, which led to changes in policies.

It seems that Dattco, and Westport Police, are doing their part to ensure that every child gets on and off the bus safely.

Now it’s up to every driver to do the same.

We stop for deer. Let’s stop for school buses too. (Photo/Paul Delano)



Unsung Hero #255

Alert — and grateful — “06880” reader Randi Nazem writes:

At a time of so many late school bus pick-ups and drop-offs, and shortages and rotations of bus drivers (every day a different one on some buses), I want to shine a light on the driver of bus #39 at Coleytown Elementary School.

Mohammad is the most amazing driver we have had in the 5 years I’ve lived here. He was our driver last year and we thought he was stellar then. But this year, in just 3 short weeks, he has blown us all away with his timeliness, his compassion for the children and their safety, and the smile he brings to the bus stop every morning and afternoon.

Mohammad waves goodbye …

Bus 39 hit the driver jackpot, and we couldn’t be happier! He never leaves the stop without checking if all the regulars are on the bus. He drops off and won’t leave the youngest children alone if there is not a parent waiting.

He waits for us if we are running late, and most of all he has full control of a packed bus of children who are always seated and well behaved.

… and poses with some of his bus 39 children. 

Let’s give a shout out to the driver of Bus #39: a hard worker who comes who shows up every day for our children!

Your Blue Ribbon Drive/Bayberry Lane/Cross Highway crew recognizes you, and all the great things you have done to get our children to CES on time and safely.

You can’t put a price on that!

Congratulations and thank you, Mohammad. You are our Unsung Hero of the week. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com.

(“06880” is entirely reader-supported. To contribute, please click here.)

More smiling faces. (All photos/Randi Nazem)


Roundup: Wynston Browne, Water Conservation, 9/11 Memorial …

Wynston Brown continues to inspire us all.

The non-speaking autistic teenager was once thought to be intellectually disabled. In July, “06880” described his astonishing progress, since he began using a special communication board a year ago.

Earlier this month he met customers at The Porch @ Christie’s. He showed them his spelling device, and answered questions.

Wynston Browne with his spelling board.

Wynston was there again Monday — the day before beginning his sophomore year at Staples High School. Owner Andrea Pecoriello hosted him.

His mother Lynda Kommel-Browne says: “Wynston had a nice conversation with 4 families, who were not familiar with non-speakers and spelling boards. Wynston beamed with pride and energy to show folks his communication skills. It was a great eye-opening experience for all.

Wynston Browne and his communication partner, Elisa Feinman, show his spelling board to customers at The Porch. His brother Harrison is standing (right).

“Wynston’s 16-year-old brother Harrison beamed with pride too, seeing customers take an interest in Wyn, and seeing Wyn respond to questions with high level answers.

“For example, he said, ‘In biology we are studying macro molecules …  carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Carbohydrates is your body’s main energy source.'”

He talked about “The Kite Runner” too — and asked some of his new friends questions like what they like to eat at The Porch.

Wynston’s world is opening up — and he is opening up ours. “06880” will continue to report on his progress, and on opportunities for Westporters to meet him.

Wynston Browne, with younger customers.


Following up on yesterday’s water conservation measures, a reader writes:

“We use the ‘speed load’ setting. Our washing machine runs for 25 minutes, instead of an hour and 10 minutes on the regular setting. Our clothes get just as clean — we have never had an issue with that.”

Any other water-saving ideas? Click “Comments” below.

Select “quick wash,” which you probably never noticed before.


Connecticut’s official 9/11 memorial is at Sherwood Island State Park for 2 reasons.

On that horrific day 21 years ago, people gathered on the shore saw smoke rise from the Twin Towers 50 miles away.

And the area was ready to be used as a staging area for rescue helicopters. Sadly, none were needed.

Two decades later, the simple memorial attracts a steady stream of visitors. It includes the names of state residents who died in the terrorist attacks.

Each year, there is a remembrance ceremony at the Sherwood Island Living Memorial. This year’s is set for Thursday, September 8 (5:30 p.m.). Family members of those killed will participate, and the names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut will be read aloud.

The ceremony will be livestreamed at ct-n.com. An on-demand video will be made available there shortly after its conclusion.

The 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park. (Photos/Ellen Bowen)


Tomorrow’s “Jazz at the Post” stars Rob Henke & the Cook County Stompers.

Greg Murphy, Tim Ferguson, Sipho Kunene and Greg Wall — the “Jazz Rabbi” — play 2 sets at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 (7 and 8:30 p.m.; dinner at 6:30; $10 cover).

The Thursday night series has earned an avid following. The jazz is great; the acoustics are superb; the food is excellent, and the view is superb.

What’s not to like?

Reservations are strongly suggested: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Cook County Stompers


If you haven’t been to an Artists Collective of Westport pop-up show: Pop in to the next one.

Held, as always, in the Westport Country Playhouse barn, it features works by homeless veterans. The art was created in classes run by the Collective, at Bridgeport’s Homes for the Brave shelter.

There’s a reception next Wednesday (September 7, 6 to 8 p.m.), and an artists’ talk Saturday, September 10 (4 p.m.). The works are on display to the public September 8 to 10, from 2 to 6 p.m. each day.

The Artists’ Collective does great work, very quietly. They don’t toot their own horns. So I’ll toot it for them.

See you at the show!


I hate to keep throwing barbs at Hook’d.

But really, the Compo Beach concession is just mailing it in.

Earlier this summer, after sharp comments on “06880,” they finally began posting their hours on the door.

That’s gone now.

With the doors locked yesterday, this was the scene:

(Photo/Yvonne Senturia)

That’s still better than a few days ago. The doors were locked then. The sandwich board sign was out.

But the arrow was pointing the wrong way.


School started yesterday. And — right on cue — there was this familiar sight at the Imperial Avenue parking lot:

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

Readers sometimes wonder what they’re doing there.

The answer makes sense: It’s a spot for drivers to gather between runs, without having to navigate the cramped, busy entrance and exit at the Dattco lot across from Playhouse Square.

Once in the morning there, and again in the afternoon, is plenty.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is X-rated.

Michael and Valerie Szeto write: “With Cole Porter’s permission. one might say, ‘Birds do it, bees do it, even Westport horseshoe crabs do it … let’s do it, let’s fall in love!'”

(Photo/Valerie Szeto)

This shot of mating horseshoe crabs was taken in the shallow water off Owenoke Park. Michael spotted it; Valerie snapped it.

The couple then left, giving this other couple some privacy.


And finally … it wasn’t hard to figure out today’s song, was it?

(Birds and bees don’t do it, but we hope you will: Support “06880.” Please click here to contribute.)

[UPDATE] Scarice Adds Details On “Suspicious Person”

Following up on the Westport Police Department’s information about this morning’s “sheter in place” order at Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice says:

Earlier this morning a student who missed their bus walked to the Dattco bus yard and requested a ride to Bedford Middle School. Personnel at the bus yard mobilized to provide transportation for this student.

Some time thereafter, personnel at the Dattco bus yard contacted the school district’s transportation coordinator to inform the coordinator about their plan to transport the student, but unfortunately provided incomplete and inaccurate information regarding the student’s identity and school.  Our transportation coordinator immediately contacted the BMS and central office administration.

The administration then swiftly contacted our Westport Police Department School Security Officer (SSO) and School Resource Officer (SRO), and the Staples administration.  After investigating to determine the identity and location of the student through video surveillance, our SRO discovered that the student was dropped off at Bedford Middle School, but then left the bus and walked towards Staples High School.

As a precaution, our SSO and SRO then sought additional resources from the Westport Police Department.  Both schools were placed in a shelter-in-place.

Through collaboration with the school and district administration, the student was then correctly identified, interviewed, and it was determined that the shelter-in-place could be lifted.

The administration is committed to identifying the breakdown of the Dattco bus yard communication and protocols in this incident.

Again, I have complete confidence that at no time were our students and staff in danger. Additionally, it is clear that the positive and collaborative relationship we enjoy with the Westport Police Department, and the swift actions of our Bedford and Staples administration, along with our transportation coordinator and central office administration, all contributed to the timely resolution of this matter.

Scarice Update: Bus Delays, Equity Study

In his latest communication, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice address 2 major issues. The first is buses.

Transportation has been a major challenge this year. Busing delays and late arrivals have impacted the student school day and led to confusion and anxiety among parents and students.

Across the state and nation, a crippling bus driver shortage has impacted school district transportation services leading to closures and cancellations in some towns. Our transportation provider, Dattco, had been able to staff our buses by reallocating office personnel with the appropriate licensure to serve as drivers.  However, the impact of the shortage has now hit Westport. To compound the challenges, there has been a marked increase in the volume of traffic on town roads.

Due to the shortage of drivers and increased traffic, routes are being consolidated while other routing options are being explored. The primary goal is to get all students to and from school on time. While consolidating routes could lead to delays, this temporary practice is necessary at this point in time.

Pretty soon, each kid will get his or her own personal bus.

Our newest drivers are becoming more familiar with our routes, which will enable routes to be completed more quickly. Schools will continue to communicate with parents at first notification that buses will be impacted by consolidation or a driver shortage.

Efforts are being made by Dattco to secure more drivers with incentives such as signing bonuses and expedited training for licensure.

Historically, all buses were expected to clear the school yard within 30 minutes of dismissal. Some schools were much quicker than this, and others took the full 30 or so minutes to clear. That standard, applied to our current start times, would estimate that our elementary schools should clear their buses for dismissal by 4:15 p.m. (Saugatuck 3:45). The district is working to ensure that fully staffed buses depart by 4:15.

Combined runs could likely depart later than 4:15. When that is the case, principals will work with our transportation coordinator to provide as much advance notice as possible, with a specific time of departure from the school so parents can plan accordingly.  This resolution will be temporary until additional drivers can be secured.

Given this critical driver shortage, please have a morning and afternoon contingency plan, as you would with an inclement weather delayed opening/early closure, in the event of a significant delay due to the lack of a driver or the consolidation of a route. Building principals will communicate this information to you as soon as they are made aware.

This is not a permanent solution to this problem, but rather a way to provide transportation in a crisis. We will continue to work with Dattco to develop strategies to secure more drivers.

Scarice also addressed the Westport Public Schools’ equity study.

Over the past few weeks there have been questions raised about the equity study the district began last year, the timeline of how the study will unfold, whether a public report will be shared, how this works fits into the overall district strategic plan, and the selection of NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.

In fairness, the district takes pride in high quality communication, yet the communication on this work could have been better and I am ultimately responsible for that. In addition to the comments I shared last week in the link above, I’d like to address these questions with some further context.

The district’s commitment to a culturally responsive education, with a focus on equity, inclusion and diversity, began a number of years ago and was captured in a statement in the 2017 district strategic plan.

Statewide, it’s important to note that on February 3, the state Department of Education formally adopted a position statement on culturally responsive education, followed by a joint statement this summer in collaboration with the CT Association of Boards of Education, CT Association of Public School Superintendents, CT Association of Schools, CT Educator Association and American Federation of Teachers .

Given the district and town’s commitment over the years, and the fact that this focus is currently a part of the educational landscape across the state and nation as illustrated above, the question is how to pursue this work.

In Westport, the initiation of an equity study last year began with a focus on ensuring equitable access to all programs and services for all students, establishing a strong sense of belonging in our schools for all students, and delivering a curriculum and instructional program that prepares all students for thoughtful citizenship and a very diverse global economy.

The district is still in the study phase as no new curriculum units or Board of Education (BOE) policies have been adopted as a result of the equity study.

Local district data has been reviewed as a part of the study. It is common for organizations to analyze their data for discrepancies and disproportionality. For example, local police departments analyze their traffic stop data for disproportionality. For schools, academic and behavioral data can be used for analytical purposes.

In our equity study, local academic and behavioral data has been reviewed, focus groups have been held with students and parents, and this information has been interpreted by a committee of educators and community members with an interest in the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion. The district established a tab on our website last year with information for the community and it will be updated to include access to the data reviewed. Following that data and information informed subsequent steps in the process.

At this point in the process, the formal committee meetings have concluded and three areas of focus for action planning have been identified:  teaching/learning, professional development, and data systems. Further work in the equity study action plans will continue, but ultimately this work must fold into the overall district strategic plan, which will be available for public review and formally presented to the BOE for a vote. It is anticipated that the initial goals and objectives of the district strategic plan will be presented in December.

Prior to the BOE adoption of a strategic plan in December a final report of the equity study will be presented publicly to the BOE as an information item for public discussion.  It is expected that this will occur in November.

Last December, a formal Request for Qualifications was issued for the purposes of consultation on conducting an equity study. A number of applicants were reviewed by a committee of local educators. The deciding factors in selecting NYU Metropolitan Center by the committee were experience in consulting and research, the focus on a collaborative approach in co-creating action plans, the capacity to customize the study for our district, and the committee approach that precluded imposition by an outside group. The final action plans will be the work of WPS educators and community members, not handed to the district by an outside agency. Finally, the checks and balances of public education ensure that any formal action plans that will be folded in the district strategic plan will be voted on by the BOE in public session.

Pic Of The Day #1253

Sign of the times (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Roundup: Kneads Opens, School Begins, More

If you thought Saugatuck “kneads” something to replace Garelick & Herbs: You’re in luck.

“Kneads” — a bakery, cafe and mill — opened Saturday, across from Saugatuck Sweets. Chef Daniel Moreno offers breakfast, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffee, tea — and of course breads (sourdough, baguette, fig cranberry walnut, brioche …).

He focuses on local products. There’s bacon and ham from Fleischer’s next door. Moreno has partnered too with chef Bill Taibe of The Whelk across the street, as well as the Westport Farmer’ market and Wakeman Town Farm.

If your mouth is watering though, you’ll have to wait. Kneads is closed Monday and Tuesday. It’s open Wednesday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Click here for more info, from Stephanie Webster’s great CTbites.

Here’s something you haven’t seen in nearly 6 months.

But tomorrow — for the first time since mid-March — school buses will prowl the streets of Westport. It will almost feel good to get stuck behind one again.

The other day, this driver practiced turning from Thomas Road onto Imperial Avenue.

(Photo/Christie Stanger)

Trevor Freeland was a member of the first all-Black team to reach the top ranks of American youth swimming (chronicled in the 2007 movie “Pride”). As the first Black swimmer to compete in the ACC, he helped the University of Virginia win the 1st of 16 league titles.

One of the few Black executives to run a major Wall Street trading desk, he has committed his life to challenging and breaking down barriers. He attributes his success to the work ethic and life skills he learned in the pool.

This Saturday (September 12, 9:30 a.m., Camp Mahackeno outdoor amphitheater), he’ll talk about “Excellence is a Habit: How Do You Shatter Racial Barriers, Win Championships, and Build a Life of Success?”

A limited number of spots are open to Y members who are not non-Water Rat swimmers, and their families. To register, or for questions, email ejohnston@westporty.org,

Trevor Freeland

Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 8, 7:30 p.m.), the Democratic Women of Westport are sponsoring a virtual discussion with Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. He’ll discuss immigration issues.

To register and receive a link, email dww06880@gmail.com

State Attorney General William Tong.

Dick Festa — longtime owner of the Party Barn store, first on Main Street and then in Playhouse Square — died last week in Florida. He was 87.

Dick spent many years on the Westport YMCA’s board of directors. He was also an avid squash and badminton player there.

He is survived by 4 children, 4 grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and his sister.

There will be no calling hours, due to COVID-19. A memorial service will take place at a future date. For Dick’s full obituary, click here.

Alert “06880” reader Tommy Magro tells us that this year, Good Humor celebrates its 100th anniversary.

He spotted this classic scene yesterday, on Soundview Drive. He’s to 100 more years of Toasted Almonds (or whatever your favorite happens to be).

(Photo/Tommy Magro)

And finally … “06880,” Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie wish you a Happy Labor Day!