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BOARD OF EDUCATION UPDATE - 1/21/16

 
The next regular board meeting will be held on January 25th @ 6:00 p.m. WMS LRC - please note time change to accommodate discussions and approval of the budget.

The Board of Education and the District will be meeting to discuss each school's budget for the 2016-2017 school year. This is your chance to understand the upcoming school budget and let your voice be heard on issues of importance to you. Please join us at the workshops and meetings listed below to hear the Weston Public Schools administrative team present its proposed budget for 2016-2017 to the Weston Board of Education.

Budget Workshop #1:
Due to weather the first meeting was canceled and rescheduled for January 19th, 7pm WMS LRC,
Topics: Superintendent Overview, Instructional Program, District-Wide Services, District Administration, Technology

Budget Workshop #2 and #3
January 21, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. WMS LRC
Topics: Hurlbutt Elementary School, Weston Intermediate School, Weston Middle School, Weston High School, Athletics; 
Facilities, Special Education, Pupil Personnel Services, Summary

Each budget workshop will be broadcast live on Channel 78 or streaming live on the district website (westonps.org). These meetings are all open to the public, and you are welcome to attend in person or watch from the comfort of your living room. 

 

BOARD OF EDUCATION UPDATE

By Sandra Hart

 

The next meeting will be held on December 21st 7:30 p.m. WMS LRC.

 

Congratulations to Dr. Palmer on being named Superintendent of the Year by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. The Board of Education will be honoring Dr. Palmer at the December 21st regular Board Meeting. To learn more about this honor click here.

 

In January the Board of Education and the District meet to discuss each school's budget for the 2016-2017 school year. This is your chance to understand the upcoming school budget and let your voices be heard on issues of importance to you. Please join us at the workshops and meetings listed below to hear the Weston Public Schools administrative team present its proposed budget for 2016-2017 to the Weston Board of Education:

 

Budget Workshop #1

January 12, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. WMS LRC

Topics: Superintendent Overview, Instructional Program, District-Wide Services, District Administration, Technology

 

Budget Workshop #2

January 19, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. WMS LRC

Topics: Hurlbutt Elementary School, Weston Intermediate School, Weston Middle School, Weston High School, Athletics

 

Budget Workshop #3

January 21, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. WMS LRC

Topics: Facilities, Special Education, Pupil Personnel Services, Summary

 

Each budget workshop will be broadcast live on Channel 79. These meetings are all open to the public, and you are welcome to attend in person or watch from the comfort of your living room.

 

BOARD OF EDUCATION UPDATE (10/19/15 Meeting)

By Katia Colaprico

  • Adrienne Dunn was recognized as Weston 2016 Teacher of the Year. (Ms. Dunne I currently a 5th grade teacher at WIS.)

  • 2016-2017 calendar was presented by Dr. Palmer It was voted on by the BOE and approved. 2016-2017 will be the first year the mandated Unified Regional Calendar will be in effect.

  • Next BOE meeting is on Oct. 19th at 7:30pm in the WMS library.

    BOARD OF EDUCATION ELECTIONS

There are five candidates running for the four Board of Education seats to be decided in the November 3rd election:

Ellen Uzenoff
Phil Schaeffer
Dana Levin
Dan McNeill Jacqueline Blechinger

Please take the time to learn about the different views and backgrounds of the candidates running so you can make an informed vote on election day - November 3rd.

A recent Weston Forum article presented information about each candidate: http://www.thewestonforum.com/54125/contested- race-for-weston-board-of-education-2

Coverage of the October 17th debate (as well as a video of the debate) is available through the League of Women Voters website: http://www.lwvweston.org 

 

Board of Education Update (9/21/15 Meeting)

By Katia Colaprico

 

  • Nina Daniel was recognized for her 4 years of service on the BOE and Dan McNeill welcomed as her replacement
  • Enrollment update for HES
    • K – 124
    • 1 – 140
    • 2 – 155
  • STEM initiative being embraced by district and the possibility of offering a coding class at HES is being discussed.
  • Next BOE meeting is on Oct. 19th at 7:30pm in the WMS library.

 

Board of Education Review - January 22, 2015 edition
By Tim Lawler
 
 
Weston Board of Education (BOE) Budget Proposal
 
The BOE has proposed a budget increase of 3.17% for the 2015-16 school year.
This is $1,503,216 higher than the 2014-15 school budget.
 
Budget Workshop Meetings (open to the public) are currently being held at the Weston Middle School (WMS) on:
-Tuesday, January 13, 2015 @ 7:00 PM
-Tuesday, January 20, 2015 @ 7:00 PM
-Thursday, January 22, 2015 @ 7:00 PM
 
The evening meeting(s) discuss specific sections of the proposed budget in greater detail while providing Weston residents the opportunity to voice concerns and opinions.
 
Weston School Budget information can be found at:
 
 
The main budget increases for 2015-16 are:
 
Salaries (contractual) + $983,465
Benefits  + $283,043
Energy  + $  90,171
Maintenance Projects + $  69,804
Software + $  67,892
Contracts + $  53,355
 
The BOE is predicting a (district wide) drop of 17 students next year.  
-9 students in HES
-24 Students in WIS
-19 students in WMS
+34 students in WHS
 
The reduced staffing of teachers can only occur when student levels drop in a specific grade.  For example see (link)
 
HES can eliminate 2 teacher positions and 1 paraprofessional position for 2015-16.
  • The proposed decrease of 27 kindergarten students (from 140 to 113) will allow HES to eliminate 2 sections of kindergarten.  
  • There is no contingency teacher plan in the proposed 2015-16 budget.  If the projected kindergarten enrollment numbers are incorrect, then additional teacher/paraprofessional salaries may be required.
  • Grades 1 & 2 are both predicted to increase (by 17 students total).   The teachers currently in place can handle the increase in students while maintaining the proper class size.  
 
WIS can eliminate 1 teacher position from the budget.
  • Proposed decrease of 32 grade 3 students (from 185 to 153) will allow WMS to eliminate 1 section of 3rd grade.  
  • Grade 4 is predicted to increase by 11 students.  The teachers currently in place can handle the proposed increase in students while maintaining the proper class size, but the addition of a few more fourth grade students could force another section (and teacher).
  • There is no contingency teacher plan in the proposed 2015-16 budget.  If the projected grade 4 enrollment numbers are incorrect, then additional teacher salary may be required.
 
WMS can eliminate 1 teacher position from the budget.
  • Proposed decrease of 19 students (from 603 to 584) 
  • The middle school is not as structured as HES and WIS.  Teachers and classes are not confined to sections of each grade.  The decrease in students will allow for a partial staff decrease in English, Social Studies/Science, and Health/PE.  It will not eliminate an entire section or teacher, but eliminate specific courses and teacher hours  .
 
WHS will add approximately 2.75 teacher positions to the budget.
  • Proposed increase of 34 students (from 781 to 815) 
  • The high school teachers and classes are not confined to sections of each grade.  
  • The increase of students (primarily to 12th grade) will increase staffing to Math, Spanish, Social Studies, Health/PE, Advanced Computer Coding, Biology, AP Microeconomics, AP Latin, and Writing Center.
 
These are not the only topics being discussed during the Budget Workshop Meetings.  Each workshop will explain different portions of the Proposed 2015-16 School Budget.  Please attend if you are interested in learning more about the next year’s proposed school budget, or if you have questions and comments.
 
Meetings are open to the public, broadcast live on channel 78, and recorded for on line viewing.
 
 
Schools and Space
 
The Weston Board of Selectmen (BOS) and Weston BOE have resumed discussions about the predicted decline in enrollment and the available classroom space in HES.   This topic would normally be discussed during a Facilities Committee Meeting.  The monthly Facilities Committee does not include all members of the BOE and are held on Monday afternoons.  The Superintendent Palmer and BOE felt it necessary to move the meeting to the evening so it include the entire Board and increase public participation and viewing.
 
The meeting times are as follows:
-Tuesday, January 13, 2015 @ 6:00-7:00 PM
-Tuesday, January 20, 2015 @ 6:00-7:00 PM
-Thursday, January 22, 2015 @ 6:00-7:00 PM
 
Meetings are open to the public, broadcast live on channel 78, and recorded for on line viewing.
 
Superintendent Palmer began discussions by summarizing the history of the last two years and bringing us to the current situation:
 

 

Pre-Newtown 2012
  • moving Senior Center to HES North House
  • students sharing North House with seniors and/or offices for a year or two
  • staggered approach to removing students entirely from HES North House
  • eventually moving second grade to WIS
  • reducing the Vice Principal position
  • reducing costs to facility operations
  • reducing staffing to run facilities
  • make room for annex offices to move into North House
 
Post-Newtown 2012
  • BOE tabled the issue of shared space in North House
 
2013-14 
  • town seeks permanent location for Weston Senior Center
  • church facility in Weston is ruled out as possible permanent location
  • BOS and BOE reignite the conversation about expanding the Senior Center at HES
  • Global Facilities Study is conducted
  • BOE reviews 6 options and rejects 4 of them
  • accepts possibility of expanding Senior Center in South House 
  • accepts possibility of extending Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to 5 years.  It was previously renewed on a year-to-year basis.
  • accepts possibility of (selected) BOE offices moving into HES
 
2014-15
  • BOE and town sign a 5 year MOU for Senior Center in HES South House
  • town invests with changes to better accommodate the Senior Center
  • parking for the senior center is expanded 
  • BOS requests the future intentions of unused space in HES North House
 
The BOE has remained consistent with the intentions of North House and the possibility of continued enrollment decline.  The 5 year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) allows several years of ‘actual’ enrollment numbers to help determine the appropiate course of action.  The BOE has and will continue to investigate all options during this time, while monitoring the actual enrollment numbers.
 
Several options currently being investigated are:
  • moving the Senior Center to the first floor of North House
  • South House would be re-claimed for student classrooms
  • moving acceptable Central Office facilities to the second floor of North House
  • town could claim office space in the vacated Central Office 
  • grade 2 would be relocated to WIS
 
If the predicted enrollment numbers are correct, and kindergarten enrollment drops by over 35% in the next two years (from 140 to 90), then the BOE will have had the opportunity to prepare appropiate plan of action and be able to act quickly.    
 
If the predicted enrollment numbers are incorrect, and enrollment does not drop in the next few years, then the BOE will have had the opportunity to prepare an alternate plan of action and be able to act accordingly.    
 
The BOE does not want to rush into a decision that gives away school space away, only to require it if enrollment predictions were incorrect.  The BOE also does not want to waste time and money by sitting on unused school space when the town desperately needs it.
 
This conversation will continue before this Thursday’s Budget Workshop Meetings and at the upcoming Tri-Board Meeting:
-Tuesday, January 27, 2015 @ 7:30 PM - Weston Middle School (LRC)
 
Please attend if you are interested in learning more about the School & Space situation that could deeply impact WIS and HES.
 
 
Upcoming Meetings
 
Budget Workshops
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 @ 7:00 PM - Weston Middle School (LRC)
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 @ 7:00 PM - Weston Middle School (LRC)
Thursday, January 22, 2015 @ 7:00 PM - Weston Middle School (LRC)
 
School & Space
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 @ 6:00 PM - Weston Middle School (LRC)
Thursday, January 22, 2015 @ 6:00 PM - Weston Middle School (LRC)
 
Joint PTO
Friday, January 23, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
Weston High School Auditorium
Agenda: 1. Overview of the State of the District and Budget for 2015-16
2. Questions/Comments From Public 
 
Board of Education
January 26, 2015 @ 7:30 PM
Weston Middle School Library Resource Center
Agenda: Budget Vote
 
Tri-Board
January 27, 2015 @ 7:30 PM
Weston Middle School Library Resource Center
Agenda (TBD)
1. Schools & Space
2. State of the District
3. Budget 2015-16

 

BOARD OF EDUCATION UPDATE - MAY 22, 2014

Timeline regarding Senior Center:

BOE Meeting, May 19:  Jeff Venter from DVS security presented his findings to the Board of Education.  This was done almost exclusively in executive session (closed to the public) due to the nature of the information being shared.  

Evening Forum, May 20:  Members of the BOE Facilities Committee, Administration and Sgt. Ferullo from the Weston Police Department hosted an open forum discussion regarding campus security with a focus on the Senior Center and Hurlbutt Elementary.  Aside from answering parent questions, the major takeaway from the meeting was that the security analysis reflected the fact that the presence of the Senior Center at Hurlbutt Elementary, in its present or proposed expanded space, did not compromise the safety and security of students at Hurlbutt.  In addition, Sgt. Ferullo added that the presence of the seniors on campus could potentially increase the security as they could act as an extra set of eyes and ears.

Special BOE Meeting, May 22:  The BOE voted to give the Chairman the authority to negotiate with the town for a five year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with regards to the Senior Center located in South House.  In addition, it approved the expansion of the Senior Center to include the classrooms and storage rooms up to the top of the hallway.  The construction of a concrete wall to be built near the top of the South House hallway leading to the Senior Center is going to be one of the elements included in the MOU.

 

School Calendar:

 

Weston has been granted a deferral from the public school calendar mandated by the State of Connecticut.  This means that Weston Public Schools will be able to create and follow their own school calendar through the 2015-2016 school year.

 

 

The Superintendent plans to continue this struggle against the state mandated calendar so Weston may have the freedom to create a calendar that works for our school district.

 

Kindergarten Registration:

 

131 children have officially registered for Kindergarten. An accurate number of Kindergarten enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year  is incredibly helpful in the hiring of teachers and placement of children.  Please register your child for Kindergarten if they are eligible, and please encourage other to do the same. 

 

Going forward:

 
The purpose of this report was to serve as a synopsis of three very long meetings.  In the process, some details or answers to specific questions are not included.   Going forward, the BOE and Superintendent will continue to address safety and security concerns, playgrounds, parking lots, etc.  If you have any questions or would like more information there are a few ways you can get it.  First, you can watch the meetings online at https://westonps.eduvision.tv/default.aspx  Second, you can send an email to and have your question answered there by Dr. Palmer.  The advantage to this is that the answers to other, possibly common questions are there for everybody to see.  You can also email HES PTO President Dan McNeill at or BOE Chairman Phil Schaefer at .
 
 
 
Board of Education Review - 3/27/14
By Tim Lawler
 
 
Important Budget Meeting Dates
 
Board of Finance Public Hearing
April 2, 2014 @ 8:00 PM 
Weston Middle School Cafeteria
This your opportunity to voice support or opposition towards the proposed 2014-2015 Town and Board of Education Budget.  This is the last public opportunity to speak to Board of Finance (BOF) members before they vote on the budget.
 
Board of Finance Deliberations & Decision Meeting
April 8, 2014 @ 7:30 PM 
Weston Town Hall
BOF members will discuss and vote on the proposed 2014-2015 Town and Board of Education Budget.  They will decide the final budget that is to be voted on by the public on April 23rd.  The meeting is open to the public, but those in attendance may only observe.  This is the best opportunity to see if our elected officials agree or disagree with the BOE budget and the public comments from the prior meeting.  
 
Annual Town Budget Meeting
April 23, 2014 @ 8:00 PM 
Weston High School Auditorium
Weston Residents vote to approve the budget and send it to a town wide referendum.  You must be present to vote.
 
 
Shared Space Review
HES PTO General Meeting w/ Superintendent of Schools & several representatives from the BOE 
April 9, 2014 @ 9:30 AM 
HES South House Cafeteria
Several representatives from the Board of Education (BOE) and Dr Colleen Palmer (Superintendent of Schools) will visit for a ‘question and answer’ style meeting to address and discuss recent concerns of parents, including the status of:
-shared space (co-mingling) in HES
-possible expansion of senior center within HES
-possible playground relocation(s)
-possible parking lot expansion(s)
-security impacts
-and more 
 
This will be a great opportunity to hear the latest information and ask vital questions (directly to representatives of the BOE and Superintendent) about this and other topics.  All are invited.
Two residents spoke during the March 17th Board of Education Meeting, and asked for more details (from the BOE) about the progress of the Public School Space Study.  
The BOE Facilities Committee reviewed the Space Study in January and narrowed it down to two viable options.  The two options were:
 
Option #2
Repurpose 2nd Floor of HES North House for ‘specific’ BOE offices
2nd Grade to remain on First Floor of HES North House
Gymnasium remains intact and solely used for students
Senior Center remains exactly as it is today   
 
Option #6
Repurpose 2nd Floor of HES North House for ‘specific’ BOE offices
2nd Grade to remain on First Floor of HES North House
Gymnasium remains intact and solely used for students
Expand Senior Center in current HES South House location
            -move playground
            -move senior center entrance (not visible from front of school)
            -construct separate parking lot in vicinity of current playground location
 
The HES Gymnasium will be solely used by students in both options.
The HES Multi-purpose Room will be restricted from students in both options.
 
These options are to be temporarily put on hold while the State of Connecticut completes the Report of School Safety Infrastructure Council.
 
The options are currently being investigated by the BOE and Town of Weston.  The Superintendent and representatives from the BOE both generously agreed to meet with the HES PTO for the question and answer style meeting.
 
Please make every effort to attend, because these issues directly impact our children and our school.

 

School State-wide Calendar
 
The state has adopted a mandated Calendar for the 2015-2016 school year. 
 
Dr. Palmer is trying to free Weston Public Schools from this mandate, so the district can mold the calendar to fit the town.  She is currently seeking a one year delay, from the state, on the implementation of the common calendar.
 
The new calendar's start date, for 2015-2016, will be September 2nd…that is 8 days later than Weston started school in 2013-2014.  If you look at the number of snow days that we have in Weston, our children could be going to school for the entire month of June.
 
Additionally:
-all districts will have the same Spring Break from April 11-15
-we will have school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving
-will have to compete with all districts for talented teacher development representatives
 
 
Implementation of Common Core and Smarter Balanced Assessments
 
The implementation of this new system has brought three major hurdles to all school districts (including Weston):
-New Common Core Standards
-New Smarter Balanced Assessments
-New Teacher Evaluation
 
Weston’s AIM initiative (Academic Innovation and Measurement) has proven to be more rigorous education system than the previous Connecticut standards.  This has made Weston’s transition to the Common Core much smoother than other districts.  
For more information on AIM, please visit www.westonps.org 
 
The Smarter Balanced is based on the idea that high quality assessments can contribute to improved teaching and learning. It ultimately helps students graduate high school and prepare them for college/career.  Aligned with the Common Core State Standards, these assessments will measure student achievement and growth in English language arts/literacy and mathematics in grades 3-8 and 11.  Science will continue to be assessed through CMT/CAPT in grades 5-8 and 10.  
 
The assessments for this year will be taken by Weston students in May-June.
The results will not be officially recorded.  This year will offer students, teachers, and the online testing method a ‘practice-run’ at the assessment procedure.
 
2013
CAPT  - Math, English, Science Grades 3-5 & 10
 
2014
Smarter Balanced - Math, English Grades 3-8 & 11
CAPT - Science  Grade 3-5 & 10
 
For more information on AIM, please visit www.westonps.org 
 
 
Upcoming Meetings
 
Board of Education
April 21, 2014 @ 7:30 PM
Weston Middle School Library Resource Center
Agenda (see www.westonps.org)

BOE Update - March 13, 2014
By Tim Lawler
 
 
2014-2015 Board of Education Budget
 
The Proposed Plan for Expenditures for the 2014-2015 school year is $47,494,856. 
This represents an increase of $1,919,438 or 4.21%. 
The Board of Education (BOE) unanimously approved this budget.  
 
The budget was then given to the Board of Selectmen for review.
The Board of Selectman recommended a reduction of $280,000. 
The Board of Selectmen does not have the power to reduce or increase the budget.  
It can only make recommendations regarding the budget before it is sent to the Board of Finance.
 
The Board of Finance will discuss the school budget on March 12th.  The public is allowed to attend, but not participate at this time.  The Board of Finance will hold a Public Hearing on the school budget request on: 
 
April 2, 2014 @ 8:00 PM 
Weston Middle School Cafeteria
 
This is a very important meeting to attend if you want to share your comments and thoughts with the Board of Finance, or simply see how the process works.  
 
The Board of Finance can not change individual line items in the budget, but they do have the ability to reduce or increase the overall budget by a specific dollar amount.  
 
Upcoming Meetings
 
Board of Education
March 17, 2014 @ 7:30 PM
Weston Middle School Library Resource Center
Agenda (TBD)
 
The agenda for this meeting has not yet been made public.  
Several important topics that might be discussed at this time are:
 
Co-mingling / Shared Space at Hurlbutt Elementary School
Playground Relocation(s) at Hurlbutt Elementary School
School Safety Infrastructure Standards
 
Please continue to check www.westonps.org for the updated meeting agenda and attend if you wish to stay informed on these issues.
 
See attached link for more details on these key issues from the previous BOE - Facilities Committee Meeting:
 
Co-mingling / Shared Space Review
 
4 of the 6 options were discussed and eliminated from consideration.  It was determined (for reasons of safety, educational needs, cost, and unpredictable future enrollment) that:
Town Offices will NOT be moving into HES or WMS
2nd Grade will NOT be moving up to WIS
6th Grade will NOT be moving down to WIS
WHS, WMS & WIS will NOT be impacted
HES East House will NOT be impacted
 
The remaining options to be further considered (by the BOE - Facilities Committee) were:
 
Option #2
Repurpose 2nd Floor of HES North House for ‘specific’ BOE offices
2nd Grade to remain on First Floor of HES North House
Gymnasium remains intact and solely used for students
Senior Center remains exactly as it is today   
 
Option #6
Repurpose 2nd Floor of HES North House for ‘specific’ BOE offices
2nd Grade to remain on First Floor of HES North House
Gymnasium remains intact and solely used for students
Expand Senior Center in current HES South House location
            -move playground
            -move senior center entrance (not visible from front of school)
            -construct separate parking lot in vicinity of current playground location
 
The HES Gymnasium will be solely used by students in both options.
The HES Multi-purpose Room will be restricted from students in both options.
 
These options are to be temporarily put on hold while the State of Connecticut completes the Report of School Safety Infrastructure Council (see below).
 
 
Playground Relocation
 
The potential relocation of HES North House playground is still being discussed.
Safety regulations require a playground/student play area be a minimum of 50’ from a roadway, driveway or parking lot.  This might actually place all three HES playgrounds in violation.  
 
It will be monitored and discussions of relocating it will continue, but moving this playground (and others if necessary) will be temporarily put on hold while the State of Connecticut completes the School Safety Infrastructure Standards (see below). 
 
 
School Safety Infrastructure Standards
 
The State of Connecticut is re-evaluating its role in ensuring the safety and security of the local educational facilities.  They have recognized the need for emergency preparedness and response capabilities since the Newtown shootings.  Connecticut state government has undertaken new initiatives that include the development of School Safety Infrastructure Standards (and School Security & Safety Plan Standards)
 
The School Infrastructure Standards are currently in DRAFT form, and will not be completed until July 1st (at the earliest).  
 
Therefore, the BOE - Facilities Committee will be temporarily put on hold the:
potential co-mingling of HES North House (select BOE offices)
potential alterations of the co-mingling of HES South House (senior center)
playground relocation plans
 
They will continue to prepare, research and discuss these options, but will not make any decision until the School Infrastructure Standards are complete.
 
 
Board of Finance Public Meeting
April 2, 2014 @ 8:00 PM 
Weston Middle School Cafeteria





BOARD OF EDUCATION REVIEW - 1/23/14
By Tim Lawler
 
Weston BOE - Facilities Committee Meeting
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 @ 7:00 PM
 
The Weston BOE Facilities Committee had an evening meeting to discuss the results of the Public School Space Study.
 
Silver/Perrucelli & Associates (Architect/Engineer/Interior Designer) was hired by the Town of Weston to evaluate the possible space consolidation of staff (town & school) into the middle school or elementary school, relocating the senior center, and potentially reconfiguring the the elementary and middle schools.  
 
The Facilities Committee was provided 12 options from the architect.
The BOE - Facilities Committee quickly eliminated 6 of the options.
The remaining 6 options were discussed at the meeting.  
These options will be available on line at www.westonps.org
 
 
Public School Space Study Review
 
4 of the 6 options were discussed and eliminated from consideration.  It was determined (for reasons of safety, educational needs, cost, and unpredictable future enrollment) that:

  • Town Offices will NOT be moving into HES or WMS
  • 2nd Grade will NOT be moving up to WIS
  • 6th Grade will NOT be moving down to WIS
  • WHS, WMS & WIS will NOT be impacted
  • HES East House will NOT be impacted
 
The remaining options to be further considered (by the BOE - Facilities Committee) were:
 
Option #2
  • Repurpose 2nd Floor of HES North House for ‘specific’ BOE offices
  • 2nd Grade to remain on First Floor of HES North House
  • Gymnasium remains intact and solely used for students
  • Senior Center remains exactly as it is today   
 
Option #6
  • Repurpose 2nd Floor of HES North House for ‘specific’ BOE offices
  • 2nd Grade to remain on First Floor of HES North House
  • Gymnasium remains intact and solely used for students
  • Expand Senior Center in current HES South House location
            -move playground
            -move senior center entrance (not visible from front of school)
            -construct separate parking lot in vicinity of current playground location
 
The HES Gymnasium will be solely used by students in both options.
The HES Multi-purpose Room will be restricted from students in both options.
 
These options are to be temporarily put on hold while the State of Connecticut completes the Report of School Safety Infrastructure Council (see below).
 
 
Playground Relocation
 
The potential relocation of HES North House playground was discussed.
Safety regulations require a playground/student play area be a minimum of 50’ from a roadway, driveway or parking lot.  This might actually place all three HES playgrounds in violation.  
 
The North House playground is the oldest playground on campus and requires the most maintenance.  It will be monitored and discussions of relocating it will continue, but moving this playground (and others if necessary) will be temporarily put on hold while the State of Connecticut completes the School Safety Infrastructure Standards (see below). 
 
 
School Safety Infrastructure Standards
 
The State of Connecticut is re-evaluating its role in ensuring the safety and security of the local educational facilities.  They have recognized the need for emergency preparedness and response capabilities since the Newtown shootings.  Connecticut state government has undertaken new initiatives that include the development of School Safety Infrastructure Standards (and School Security & Safety Plan Standards)
 
The School Infrastructure Standards are currently in DRAFT form, and will not be completed until July 1st (at the earliest).  
 
Therefore, the BOE - Facilities Committee will be temporarily put on hold the:
  • potential co-mingling of HES North House (select BOE offices)
  • potential alterations of the co-mingling of HES South House (senior center)
  • playground relocation plans
 
They will continue to prepare, research and discuss these options, but will not make any decision until the School Infrastructure Standards are complete.
 
 
Upcoming Meetings
 
BOE Monthly Meeting
January 27th @ 6:00 PM
Weston Middle School LRC
 
Agenda (see www.westonps.org


Board of Education Review 1/16/14
By Tim Lawler
 
 
Shared Space - Public Comments
 
Every Board of Education General Meeting opens with an opportunity for residents to ask questions and/or state opinions.  The comments and questions are not immediately addressed by the board.  They are recorded and discussed by the board later that evening, in executive session, or in following meetings. 
 
There were two public comments at the beginning the Board of Education General Meeting on December 16, 2013.  Each was related to shared space:
 
Weston Students First
Weston Students First is a nonpartisan group to educate Weston, CT residents on issues affecting our students and help them activate to improve our impact on elected officials.  Statement was read by Darcy Barrera-Hawes (Weston Resident).
 
Weston Students First respectfully requested that the Weston Board of Education no longer consider the potential proposal of public offices co-mingled with any school building. 

 
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak.  I respectfully request that the potential proposal of public offices co-mingled with any school building be removed from consideration at this time.
I understand that the proposal is in process, but it is apparent to me that there is significant intent to co-mingle public offices with our schools. In reading the proposal by the Architectural firm contracted to evaluate school space, it is evident that the goal is to evaluate how to co-mingle public town offices and students in our schools.  The proposal states in the first paragraph that the purpose of this study is to assist the Weston Public Schools with the evaluation of the space consolidation of staff into the elementary school or middle school”.  It also states “The purpose of this study is to evaluate the current and long term space needs of these departments and groups as the town considers the removal of the Annex portable structure and the consolidation of the declining elementary school enrollment.”  Which, by the way, we know did not decrease but rather increased this year. 
  The proposal further states that the Architect will document code implications of mixing the business uses of the offices and Senior Center with the Education uses of the elementary and middle school, and the consideration of school security and public access.”  Included in the proposal is also a cost estimate for the site/parking modifications related to the municipal uses of the elementary and/or middle school.”
  In fact, the Weston Public Schools Strategic Plan adopted in October 2012 states the following Tactics and Tasks:       “The administration will develop alternative plans for building use based on projected enrollment…”  and “If the community is able to take advantage of available school facilities…coordinate a plan with the town to optimize available school space for town officials.” (pg 27-28)
  Today I had the opportunity with other members of Weston Students First to meet with Governor Malloy’s office regarding the co-mingling of town offices with our schools.  It is appalling to me that we have to appeal to our state officials for help in ensuring our schools at least maintain, if not increase, the barriers between our students and outsiders, rather than jeopardize their safety by inviting the general public into schools with our children.
  I am clear, there is no misconception, that the study is ongoing. I am also clear that there is stated intent on the part of the Board of Education and Town Administration to co-mingle town offices and schools.  This issue was raised last year and parents were opposed and here we are again, just days after the anniversary of 12-14, we are discussing co-mingling public offices and students once again.  I am baffled by this.  I respectfully ask that you take the safety of our schools and students off the negotiating table now and remove from consideration the use of co-mingling town offices in our schools. Thank you.  
 
Darcy Barrera-Hawes
 
Katie Gregory
Katie is a Weston resident.  She discussed the:
-three latest events involving schools & gun violence (since the 11/25/13 BOE Meeting)
-new normal for students, facility and administrators
-and requested (again) that the BOE eliminate co-mingling as an option in the current facility study.

I sat in this same chair on November 25 asking for the BOE to eliminate co-mingling as an option in the current discussion of the space feasibility study - just three weeks ago – 21 days.  In that short time what has occurred? 
November 26th sickening headlines read that a Fairfield man planned to take Roger Sherman Elementary School children hostage and torment them. 
December 3rd – a Fairfield man, William Dong, prompted a lockdown at University of New Haven.  The authorities found 2700 rounds of ammunition and news articles of the Aurora, CO theater shooting in his padlocked bedroom. 
December 13th, the eve of the Sandy Hook massacre anniversary, we learn of a school shooting in Centennial, CO and the headlines scream, “AGAIN”.
We all want to wish and say that Sandy Hook was an isolated event, but here in just three weeks since I sat before you asking you to put school safety above money, we experienced two close calls occurring practically in our backyard and yet another school shooting.
I along with other concerned parents met with Governor Malloy’s office today asking for his support of our opposition of co-mingling.  We will continue to reach out to state and federal leaders for support. We have also contacted the newly formed CT School Security Infrastructure Council and are requesting they include guidelines prohibiting co-mingling in building projects.
A year ago, the BOE voted unanimously to table “indefinitely” the co-mingling of town and school in Hurlbutt’s North House   I might interject here that 6 months is the shortest “indefinitely” I have ever experienced in my life.   Dr. Palmer stated “there is a new normal for students, faculty and administrators.”  In a January 4th interview Dr. Palmer stated that schools are required to look at things through a new lens.    That is what the concerned parents are asking of you.   We once again request the BOE eliminate co-mingling as an option in the current facility study.  I thank you for your service to our schools and for the opportunity to share a few comments tonight.
 
 
Shared Space / Co-mingling Update
 
There was NO discussion by the BOE about the public schools space renovation study, police renovation study, or potential changes to Weston Public School System.
 
The Space Renovation Study is currently underway and DRAFT plans are expected for public discussion by January 2014.
 
If you want to hear more about Facilities Review & other Weston School projects:
Please attend monthly Board of Education Meetings and BOE - Facilities Committee Meetings.  Monthly meetings are opened to the public.   
Please see www.westonps.org for meeting times and agendas.
 
If you have immediate questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Weston Board of Education, Superintendent Colleen Palmer and PTO with questions and concerns.  Contact information is available at www.westonps.org
 
 
Kindergarten Registration
Kindergarten registration for the 2014-2015 school year has started.
Please register you children early as soon as possible.  It is extremely important that the school has the most accurate enrollment numbers for planning next year’s budget and teacher placement.
 
 
HES-PTO Present Gifts
The HES PTO was delighted to present the following to the elementary school:
-Bee Mascot Costume
-Stakes for Memorial Seating Area Tables
-LRC Re-imaging Project
-First Grade Carpet Squares
 
The HES PTO is committed to supporting the district’s overall curriculum.  They look forward to another successful year of fundraising, so they can continue to support our children and school.
 
 
Annual Energy Update
The Weston Public School Energy Reduction Program reviewed the Fourth Year Cost Avoidance & Environmental Impact Report.  This amazing program created a 4 year nets savings of $1,565,000 and continued savings into the future.  
 
Energy awards received by WPS:
-2011 US Environmental Protection Agency Energystar Leader Award
-2012 Energy Education Pacesetter Award - Greater than 30% Reduction in Energy Use
-2013 Connecticut Power of Change Award - First Honors as Top Public School in CT
 
 
2014-2015 Budget Development Update
Preliminary budget numbers are suggesting (more than) 3% raise.
Budget Draft will be available to public in January. 
 
 
Board of Education Meeting
Monday, December 27, 2013 @ 6:00 pm
Weston Middle School LRC
Agenda TBD
 
 
Board of Education - Facilities Committee Meeting
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 @ 4:00 pm
Office of the Director of Finance & Operations
Agenda TBD
 
 
Please see www.westonps.org for full meeting agenda(s)
 
These meetings are open to the public.
 


Board of Education Review for December 5, 2013
By Tim Lawler


Shared Space - Public Comments

Every Board of Education General Meeting opens with an opportunity for residents to ask questions and/or state opinions.  The comments and questions are not immediately addressed by the board.  They are recorded and discussed by the board later that evening, in executive session, or in following meetings. 

There were four public comments and two letters at the beginning the Board of Education General Meeting on November 25, 2013.  Each was related to shared space:

Weston Students First

Weston Students First is a nonpartisan group to educate Weston, CT residents on issues affecting our students and help them activate to improve our impact on elected officials.  Statement was read by Katie Gregory (Weston Resident)

 

November 25, 2013

 

I am speaking on behalf of Weston Students First, a group of parents interested in the educational issues surrounding our schools.  Thank you for the opportunity to speak and share our views and opinions on co-mingling town offices in our schools.  We are aware a proposal will be shared in January. However, we believe being involved during the planning process is productive and if our concerns are considered, the result will be a better outcome for all.

We strongly oppose the co-mingling of public offices in school buildings during school hours.  Co-mingling is a step backwards in the efforts to improve the safety of our schools and protect the children, teachers and staff.  As we all process the report on the Sandy Hook massacre, ensuring the safety of our Weston School community should be in the forefront of our minds. 

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) has been used by architects, designers and safety consultants for over twenty-five years.  One of the basic fundamentals recommended is to have a single, clearly identifiable point of entry for a school building.  We believe any proposal must adhere to this principle of controlled access.  All persons entering a school building, regardless of separation measures, must be identified by badge or some identifier regardless of the genre of their activity.  This should be a non-negotiable criteria of the proposal.

 

The advanced second generation of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design extends beyond physical design to include social dynamics.  We recommend that when developing a proposal, the Board of Education go beyond security measures such as locked doors and fences and examine potential situations and their outcomes.

 

To our knowledge and per the contract with Silver/Petrucelli Associates, parents are not being interviewed.  Parents have many questions and concerns with regards to co-mingling public offices within school buildings.  Some are listed below and deserve thought and consideration by the consultant and Board of Education when developing a proposal.  

 

Traffic 

The relocation of 3rd grade to HES or 6th grade to WIS will add additional volume to drop off and pick up times which are already congested. 

Given the recent traffic problems that occurred when Weston High School had to be evacuated, adding additional vehicles in school parking lots can hinder evacuation and emergency response.

 

Senior Center

Parents do not believe that anyone other than students, teachers, school staff and parents should be in school or on school grounds during school hours. 

Every entrance to the school needs to have the same security as the main entrance. An unsecure entrance provides a fast track for a threat into the heart of the school. 

 

Security Analysis

Will the security study be able to adequately assess the psyche and behaviors of 4, 5, 6, and 7 year olds?  Dr. Palmer stated that she would prefer to keep the public in schools with the older students when discussing an election day situation (9/4/12).

 

Renovations    

Will money be set aside if the school needs to reclaim the space due to an increase in enrollment or a change in legislation at the state or federal level? 

The 2012 discussion of placing public offices in North House involved installing AC during the renovation. Studies have shown a decrease in concentration and test scores in students with ambient temperatures above 74 degrees F. How is it a sound investment to provide town employees with air conditioning while our students and staff suffer in over heated classrooms?

    

Public Proximity to Children

Locating a public parking lot in the current North House playground gives public access to the HES bus loop, which is supposed to be a safe zone.

At WMS, the playground is clearly visible from the parking lot giving greater access to predators.

Parents do not believe a locked door is sufficient to separate town offices from school areas. How will a locked door impact emergency evacuations? How will the locked door be monitored in case someone attempts to force entry? 

Currently, members of the public found on school grounds can be removed because they do not belong there. Once public offices are located at school, it is more difficult to determine if someone is there for legitimate reasons or to harm our children. 

 

We spoke in-depth to Mr. Ronald Stephens, Executive Director of the National School Safety Center and national expert on school security.  I would now like to read his letter on this topic.

 

Thank you for your call today regarding your concerns over the city of Weston's consideration to place city offices on the elementary school campus.  You had asked for my observations with regard to this proposal, particularly as it relates to the student safety of school children and the teachers who serve them.  After having conducted more than one thousand school safety site assessments around the United States over the past twenty years I have not encountered a single school system that has proposed such a co-mingling of activities.  Most school systems strive to separate their campuses from public access during the day including the adjacent proximity of public parks and unrelated businesses.   

Incorporating city business services on or adjacent to the school grounds will significantly increase vehicular traffic, diminish air quality, pose potential traffic safety risks for children and compromise the security of the school.  There will definitely be a noteworthy environmental impact upon the school that goes beyond simply having businesses next door.  There will be a need for additional formal supervision of the site.  Schools already have significant challenges addressing the issue of access control and visitor screening without the presence of adjacent public parks or city-operated businesses.  With the proposed activities noted in your architectural plan there could be several unexpected outcomes

In addition to the architectural consulting that is being provided regarding the project's design, it would be beneficial for the local community to consider the environmental and safety issues for children.  In addition to evaluating the economic benefits of bringing city business services to the school it would also be appropriate to ask "What can go wrong with this plan?"  How will this change affect school climate?  How might it affect school safety?  It sounds like there may be some good public debate ahead.  If all parties are honest and candid with each other the City of Weston will have an opportunity to make an informed decision.  The ultimate choice of what you do as a community is up to the residents of Weston.  So many choices of this nature are based on "community will" and the priorities of the local school and the community.  Education has traditionally been a federal concern, a state function and a local responsibility.  Consequently, the local community should have the greatest say in what ultimately happens. 

You certainly have my best wishes as you carefully consider and evaluate your options.

 Cordially,

Ronald D. Stephens

 

Executive Director

National School Safety Center

Westlake Village, CA 91362

805-373-9977

www.schoolsafety.us

 

Weston Students First respectfully asks that the potential proposal of public offices or services co-mingled with any school building during school hours be removed from consideration immediately.  We hope our concerns will be forwarded to the consultant and the issues will be thoughtfully considered in the decision process.  Thank you for the opportunity to provide input.  

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Weston Students First

 

Ronald Stevens (Letter)

Executive Director 

National School Safety Center

www.schoolsafety.us

Thank you for your call today regarding your concerns over the city of Weston's consideration to place city offices on the elementary school campus.  You had asked for my observations with regard to this proposal, particularly as it relates to the student safety of school children and the teachers who serve them.  After having conducted more than one thousand school safety site assessments around the United States over the past twenty years I have not encountered a single school system that has proposed such a co-mingling of activities.  Most school systems strive to separate their campuses from public access during the day including the adjacent proximity of public parks and unrelated businesses.   

Incorporating city business services on or adjacent to the school grounds will significantly increase vehicular traffic, diminish air quality, pose potential traffic safety risks for children and compromise the security of the school.  There will definitely be a noteworthy environmental impact upon the school that goes beyond simply having businesses next door.  There will be a need for additional formal supervision of the site.  Schools already have significant challenges addressing the issue of access control and visitor screening without the presence of adjacent public parks or city-operated businesses.  With the proposed activities noted in your architectural plan there could be several unexpected outcomes

In addition to the architectural consulting that is being provided regarding the project's design, it would be beneficial for the local community to consider the environmental and safety issues for children.  In addition to evaluating the economic benefits of bringing city business services to the school it would also be appropriate to ask "What can go wrong with this plan?"  How will this change affect school climate?  How might it affect school safety?  It sounds like there may be some good public debate ahead.  If all parties are honest and candid with each other the City of Weston will have an opportunity to make an informed decision.  The ultimate choice of what you do as a community is up to the residents of Weston.  So many choices of this nature are based on "community will" and the priorities of the local school and the community.  Education has traditionally been a federal concern, a state function and a local responsibility.  Consequently, the local community should have the greatest say in what ultimately happens. 

You certainly have my best wishes as you carefully consider and evaluate your options.

 Cordially,

Ronald D. Stephens

Executive Director

National School Safety Center

Westlake Village, CA 91362

805-373-9977

www.schoolsafety.us

 

Michele Tivey

Michele is a Weston resident.  She stated that many parents/residents feel alternative options (other then schools) are not being explored, and that many parents/residents do NOT want our schools co-mingling with public/town facilities.  If the BOE and Superintendent would have the courage to stand up and say, “NO” to the idea of co-mingling school spaces with town services, then the parents/residents of Weston WILL stand behind them and support them.  

 

Carrie Usher (Letter)

4th Grade Teacher (former)

Sandy Hook School

Newtown, Connecticut

November 25, 2013

 

Board of Education                        

24 School Road                                            

    

Weston, CT 06883

 

 

To whom it may concern,

 

 

    Are we safe anywhere?  Maybe, but if we had the ability to make sure our children were safe in our school wouldn’t we do everything in our power to make it happen? 

 

My name is Carrie Usher and I am a Sandy Hook survivor. My classroom was directly across from the shooter.  Sandy Hook was a stand-alone school with a closely monitored parking lot, and still an armed gunman was able to navigate that parking lot and shoot through a large pane window out of view from the main entrance.  Once on school grounds, he could have shot through any window and entered the school.  

 

    I am writing this letter because I am horrified to think that any school district would even consider housing their student’s anywhere near a building that is open to the general public, let alone attached and adjacent to it, after the tragedy of Sandy Hook.   It is difficult enough to monitor teachers, families and extra staff at Sandy Hook.

 

    I spent last year at the Chalk Hill School and I felt safe.  No one was allowed on the campus without a pass.  They were confronted by an armed police officer and were checked out through the main office.   We are still in the process of securing all of our schools in Newtown.  

 

    It is absurd and I am outraged that the Town of Weston is considering weakening the security of a school.  The future, unfortunately, for school security is changing.   We all need to look to the security experts for their expertise.  

 

How can you put children at possible risk?  You really need to move forward and not go backwards in your thinking.  All the money in the world is not more important than our children’s safety!

 

                    One who has suffered greatly,                    

                    Carrie Usher, former 4th grade teacher, Sandy Hook

 

                    8th Grade English teacher, Newtown Middle School

 

Namuck Cho 

Namuck is a Weston resident.  He supported the comments & letters of Weston Students First, Ronald Stevens, Michele Tivey and Carrie Usher.  He also asked:

-What security studies are underway?

-Has the Weston Police Department been involved?

-What alternatives have been studied…other than school facilities? 

 

Micheal Schlechter 

Michael is a Weston resident.  He brought attention to the latest information released from the Sandy Hook massacre.  He pointed out that Sandy Hook shooter went to the school one day prior to the event.  He drove on campus and parked his car in the same place he would on the following day.  He went unnoticed. 

He also asked 

-We know more today then yesterday, so why don’t we use this information properly? 

-Why should we be inviting the public to our school campuses?  

-Why should we have anyone on campus who does not belong there?
 

Shared Space Update

The Space Renovation Study is currently underway.  

DRAFT plans are expected for public discussion by January 2014.

 

Change to the Weston Public School Systems would not be any earlier than the 2015-2016 school year.  2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years will not be affected.

 

No decision has been made (by the Board of Education) regarding class relocation(s) and/or sharing space with public offices.  They are waiting for the town to present all it’s information, before making any decision(s)…the process is still in the exploratory stage.

 

Please attend monthly BOE - Facilities Committee Meetings if you want to hear more about the Facilities Review and other Weston school projects.  Monthly meetings are opened to the public.   Please see www.westonps.org for meeting times and agendas.

 

Board of Education welcomed Elise Major to the Board

Elise was elected to the board in November.

 

Board of Education thanked Sonja Stack for 4 years of excellent service

Sonja and her family are moving out of the country and did not run for re-election on the Weston Board of Education.

 

Kindergarten Registration

Kindergarten registration for the 2014-2015 school year will begin next week.

Please register you children early as soon as possible.  It is extremely important that the school has the most accurate enrollment numbers for planning next year’s budget and teacher placement.

 

2014-2015 Operating Budget

The 2014-2015 Operating Budget is currently being developed by the BOE.

Spanish for Kindergarten and 1st Grade is back in the budget, pending approval from the Board of Finance.

More information will follow as it becomes available.

 

2014-2015 Weston Public School Calendar

 

2014-2015 Weston Public School Calendar was approved by BOE

 

The State of Connecticut has mandated a Uniform Regional School Calendar for 2015-2016.  This means that Weston will be forced follow the calendar created by the State of Connecticut.  The Superintendent and BOE will voice concerns and join with other districts that disapprove.  

 

The state calendar will:

-deny customization to our district

-limit teacher development, because Weston will have to combine with other districts

-hinder AIM, because other districts do not follow AIM

-impact the possibility of a March break…as desired for 2015-2016

 

Student Enrollment Update

 

The student enrollment study for the Town of Weston has been reevaluated.  It appears that Weston might not have been impacted (by the recent economy, unemployment, and real estate sales) as hard as other school districts in the state and/or country.  Preliminary thinking further suggests that Weston might be quicker to recover than other school districts in the state and/or country.

 

Therefore, the projected enrollment for the district will NOT dramatically drop as previously projected.  

-Larger class sizes (185-200) will be graduating over the next several years.  

-The projected Kindergarten enrollment will not be as large as the departing 12th grade.  

-It might be larger then the current Kindergarten, but not in the 180-200 range.

-The study is anticipating a smaller average class size trending in the future.  

 

The downward trend in enrollment is being considered “mild”.

Therefore, the enrollment study might impact space needs differently.

 

School Policy Updates

 

The school policies regarding out-of-town students is being reviewed.  

 

Non-resident students can attend Weston Public Schools, with:

-Approval by Superintendent

-Approval by Principal

-Full tuition rate of cost/student is paid by student’s family (not by school)

-Any special needs costs are paid by student’s family (not by school)

-No bus service

-Year to year approval

 

Non-resident students (of staff member) follow the same criteria, but pay 25% of tuition cost.

 

Central Office is also reviewing the policies of a student’s enrollment status due to:

-Families moving into town after school has already started

-Families must leave their home due to severe storm damage

-Renovation of the home and family has temporarily relocated out of town

-Student has become homeless

 

Board of Education Meeting

Monday, December 16, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

Weston Middle School LRC

Agenda TBD

 

Board of Education - Facilities Committee Meeting        

Wednesday, January 14, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

Office of the Director of Finance & Operations

Agenda TBD
 

Please see www.westonps.org for full meeting agenda(s)

 

These meetings are open to the public.