Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein said as long as her colleagues support the idea, she is willing to have a dialogue with Board of Finance members and other town officials regarding budget and enrollment trends that were updated by finance board Vice Chair Joe Kearney this week. During his presentation January 13, Mr Kearney used a graph to illustrate what he described as an “unsustainable” trend of increasing school spending despite declining student enrollment. Plotting data from the last school enrollment study to predict anticipated future student population trends, and an assumed average 2.1 percent annual school budget increase, Mr Kearney believes local taxpayers could be facing a per student expenditure of $20,000 by 2019 unless district spending is dialed back.
A half dozen Newtown officials spent about 90 minutes on a recent visit to Ridgefield January 6, getting a tour and some advice on that town’s experience with operating its relatively new and extremely popular recreation center. The Newtown group was on one of several expected field trips to see a number of rec centers across the state, as the town begins preparing for a new facility here that will incorporate both recreational and senior services. First Selectman Pat Llodra, Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold and Assistant Director of Recreation RoseAnn Reggiano, Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Ed Marks, Commission on Aging Chairman Curt Symes and Commissioner Sheila Torres, along with General Electric administrative assistant Anne Alzapiedi were hosted by Ridgefield Parks and Rec Director Paul Roche and Assistant Director of Recreation Robin Matthews on the visit.
As C.H. Booth Library department heads continue to inventory losses at the library from the January 4 flood released by broken sprinkler pipes, remediation is making good progress, said Acting Director Beryl Harrison, Monday, January 20. Work space and tables in the area of the Main Circulation Desk have been removed, and DVDs and books on the second floor are marked for packing and removal to safe areas within the building, in anticipation of further repairs to ceilings and walls, and the removal of all carpeting there.
Nearly three dozen residents from the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Penn., were in Newtown last Friday. The group spent about nine hours in town, offering support from an unfortunate point of view. These were people who were also affected by an act of violence that took the lives of five children while they were at school. The incident has forever put the name of Nickel Mines into a category that Sandy Hook joined 13 months ago, that of communities rocked by gun violence. Invitations had been extended to some of those who were most affected by the events of 12/14, according to Newtown Congregational Church Senior Minister Matthew Crebbin. The day was organized so that the participants had the opportunity for private conversations. It was important for all parties involved to know that the Amish were not coming to tell anyone how they should be responding, or feeling. They were not giving advice, said Rev Crebbin, they were just offering to listen and share their stories.
(AP) An expert told a commission looking into the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Connecticut on Friday that there is no data linking autism with increased violent criminal behavior. Documents recently released by the state police show a Yale professor had diagnosed Lanza in 2006 with profound autism spectrum disorder, "with rigidity, isolation, and a lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications," while also displaying symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is considering whether Connecticut's mental health programs, particularly in the schools, are adequate, among other things.
The Newtown Board of Education unanimously voted to name Joseph Erardi, Jr, as the school district's new superintendent during a special meeting held on Friday, January 17. According to a press release from the school board, read by BOE Vice Chair Laura Roche during the meeting, it is anticipated that Dr Erardi will begin his new position as early as the spring. Dr Erardi has been the superintendent in Southington for the past eight years, according to the release, and has served as a superintendent in three districts, including Southington, for 14 years.
With a short list of topics to run past the Board of Finance Monday evening, First Selectman Pat Llodra started with the wintry weather. Joking that “we want a mild winter, on Friday through Monday,” she had her eye on the town’s recent snow removal costs. Weekend pay is time and a half on Saturdays, and double time on Sundays. She told the Board of Finance that the town was already experiencing a drain on its budget this winter season. The board on January 13 also covered potential sewer extensions in Hawleyville, including the costs associated with that and how it would affect land with development potential within the Hawleyville district.
A public informational meeting has been scheduled by the State Department of Transportation for Tuesday, February 11, on its plans to replace an antiquated bridge and to alleviate a traffic bottleneck on the section of Sugar Street just west of its signalized intersection with Main Street, South Main Street, and Glover Avenue. The session is scheduled for 7 pm at Newtown Municipal Center. As part of the Sugar Street improvement project, a 14-foot-long Sugar Street bridge, which carries that road over an unnamed stream near Elm Drive, will be widened from its current width of 28 feet to 43 feet. The bridge, which was built in 1929, carries approximately 8,800 vehicles daily. That bridge, which becomes a traffic bottleneck during the morning and evening rush periods, currently has one eastbound lane and one westbound lane. The bridge replacement project will result in two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane on the bridge. One of those two eastbound lanes on the bridge will be a “left-turn-only” lane, thus alleviating the traffic bottleneck there.
A charity formed after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been unable to account for $73,000 it raised through marathon running, one of its co-founders said January 10. The FBI, the attorneys general in two states, and the IRS are all looking for the co-founder of an organization that raised funds for those affected by 12/14. Ryan Graney, of Nashville, Tenn., said only $30,000 of the $103,000 taken in by the 26.4.26 Foundation was used for the organization’s purpose. That money was presented last January by co-founder Robbie Bruce to the nonprofit NYA Sports & Fitness Center in Newtown. Mr Bruce has since disappeared, as has another $73,000 received by the foundation through donations and other fundraising.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay summarily rejected the state's request January 16 for a lengthy postponement of an education-funding lawsuit over whether the state is meeting its constitutional responsibility of providing a “suitable education” for every child in Connecticut.
The attorney general's office had asked the judge to reschedule a trial now set for July 1 until October 2015, a move that the plaintiffs, the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, claimed was intended to delay the proceedings until after the 2014 gubernatorial election.