A police officer will monitor the Westport schools. And he or she will do so in buildings with new roofs, and more staff.
Those were some of the decisions made at last night’s Board of Education meeting.
Brian Fullenbaum reports that the Westport Police Department plans to assign an officer to patrol outside the 7 elementary and middle schools. The officer could go inside as needed, offering a chance for students to see the police in a good positive light.
The board will vote on more specific policy regarding this topic in the near future.
The Staples High School roof replacement project will begin immediately after graduation. The total project budget is $5,577,512.
Funding of $1,519,000 was approved for the Saugatuck Elementary School roof project. It will be completed next summer.
The Board of Finance is in the process of approving soft costs, and securing funding.
Board of Ed members also saw a 5-year proposed capital forecast. Including multiple projects and other expenses, the total for the fiscal year 2021-22 was $7,243,707.
Since the spring, the Westport Public Schools have hired 4 new administrators, 39 teachers and 35 non-certified staff members. That’s up 13 teachers and 17 non-certified staff, compared to last year. Interviews were once again done live.
A heath report showed that there were 10 COVID cases last week in the Westport schools. That brings the total since the start of the school year to 34. However, there has been little to no transmission within the schools, said supervisor of health services Suzanne Levasseur.
A new roof is coming soon for Kings HIghway Elementary School,
Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s new book will not be released until tomorrow. But — based on pre-orders — Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic — is already a best-seller.
The book by the former FDA commissioner (and our Westport neighbor) describes how the coronavirus raced through our nation. Gottlieb had a front row seat: he was in regular contact with President Trump, key players in Congress, and the drug industry.
Meanwhile, new dangers lurk around every corner. Gottlieb addresses our preparations for the next virus. Are we ready?
Click here for more information, and to order his book.
Speaking of kids doing good: In August 2020, 10-year-old Suzuki violin students Isabella and Alexander Mariani — with help from their mom, Carole Chinn Mariani — created “Make Music Feed.” The small, socially distanced concert raised money for the Connecticut Food Bank. The young musicians are products of Westport’s Suzuki School of Music.
A year later — with food insecurity still rampant — Isabella and Alexander once again gathered friends. On Saturday, a second concert was held on the Marianis’ front lawn. The beneficiary was Connecticut Foodshare.
Joel Pitkin accompanied his children Mia and Noah Jung-Pitkin, and Grant Zimmerman.
A special guest was Staples High School sophomore Janna Moore. She was Alexander’s “Practice Buddies” partner. The program pairs Staples musicians with 5th grade orchestra students.
Contributions are still being accepted. Click here to help.
Suzuki concert musicians (from left): Alexander Mariani, Noah Jung-Pitkin, Isabella Mariani, Mia Jung-Pitkin, Grant Zimmerman, James McNamara, Julie McNamara and Janna Moore.(Photo: Carole Chinn Mariani)
Need help with taxes? (Besides having more money, that is.)
Westport’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program — free state and federal preparation — runs from now through April 15. IRS-certified preparers assist seniors and low- to moderate-income households, virtually or through a limited in-person scanning option.
The national program is run locally by the Department of Human Services.
The virtual option provides uploading of information via a secure encrypted site A specialist reviews and follows up for additional information as needed. Click here to participate.
The limited, on-site scanning capabilities at the Senior Center is offered Tuesdays (1 to 4 p.m.) and Thursdays (9 a.m. to noon). Participants complete a phone call to confirm what documentation is required to participate. Call 203-341-1071 for an appointment.
More than 700 returns were prepared and filed last year in Westport, with total refunds exceeding $350,000.
COVID has upended many elementary school routines.
Youngsters attend split sessions — morning or afternoon. There’s no cafeteria service.
And — go figure — more and more kids are walking to school.
Many parents don’t want their kids to ride buses. Not every mom or dad is available every day to drive every kid. So there they are, each morning: boys and girls on foot (and bikes).
It’s almost like the old days.
Except — over the years — Westport has forgotten how to handle kids heading on their own to class.
Wednesday is National Walk to School Day. Kings Highway Elementary celebrates it starting today, through Wednesday.
The school’s PTA figures it’s a great way to focus on road safety.
Parents will be stationed at Post Road West by Ludlow Road and Kings Highway North. They’ll wear neon, hand out balloons, and make themselves and their kids visible — even though (or actually because) there are no school safety zone signs and few crosswalks near the Post Road West building.
Children have made signs, promoting school zone driving safety. They’ll hang them in front of the school. Yesterday, families wrote sidewalk chalk messages about the topic.
In the absence of state signs, this homemade sign — made yesterday — was posted near the school.
The Post Road — aka US 1 — is a state thoroughfare. The town is limited in what it can do. The Kings Highway PTA is working with the Connecticut Department of Transportation and town officials to increase safety precautions, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
So this week — if you see kids walking to Kings Highway (or any other school) — slow down. Wave. Give a gentle honk of support.
And given them plenty of room to enjoy themselves.
In 2014, Kings Highway celebreated Walk to School Day (Top, bottom photos/David Gusitsch)
The big day is Tuesday. Nearly 6 months after closing — and a week after the original date — students return to Westport schools.
Many things will be different. They’ll attend in shifts: half in classrooms, half studying remotely. Desks will be 6 feet apart. Some hallways will be one-way. And those are just a few of the changes COVID has wrought.
Some youngsters have not even driven past their schools in half a year. To remind them of what they look like, here is a special “Friday Flashback” drone gallery. All images are courtesy of multi-talented and spectacular Staples High School senior Brandon Malin. (Click on or hover over any photo to enlarge.)
To start off, here’s the school he’s headed back to:
Bedford Middle School
Coleytown Middle School (construction project)
Coleytown Elementary School
Greens Farms Elementary School
Kings HIghway Elementary School
Long Lots Elementary School
Saugatuck Elementary School
Bonus feature: Greens Farms Academy (All drone photos/Brandon Malin)
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