Although Mother Nature has done her best to hold off spring warmth, there is certainly a renewed energy in our schools as we look forward to the last stretch of the school year and all of our end of year activities. I have a few updates for the school community that I’d like to share. However, given the pace of activities at the schools at this time of year, I strongly encourage you to monitor the messages from your child’s building principal so that, for example, you don’t miss a reminder message about your promise to send in a tray of goodies for teacher appreciation week…I’m still in the doghouse for that one last week.
With that, onto some brief updates for the community:
Last Day of School
The official last day of school this year is June 22 and is an early dismissal. Staples High School is set to graduate with an outdoor event on June 16, with a rain date of June 17. Recent legislation at the state level permits districts to name a graduation date in advance, and stick to that date regardless of snow days.
The district continues to advance long-term plans for our facilities. The Board of Education’s long-term capital forecast for our school buildings will guide the process. In the coming weeks I will be providing the Board of Education with my recommendation for a long-term solution to address Long Lots Elementary School. In addition, there will be discussion on potential long-term options to address Coleytown Elementary School, and the Stepping Stones Preschool. It is expected that the Board of Education meetings on May 16, June 6 and June 13 will have items related to LLS and CES on the agenda. We are at the point of narrowing the list of long-term options for LLS and CES based on recent consultative work with architectural and engineering firms.
22-23 School Year Budget and “ARPA” Funds Approved
Last week the Westport Representative Town Meeting (RTM) overwhelmingly approved the Board of Education budget for the 22-23 school year. The budget maintains all current programs and services, while enhancing and preserving supports for students.
In addition, the RTM approved federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to our schools which will enable the district to install two state of art FitCore Extreme Playground systems, one at Bedford Middle School and one at Coleytown Middle School. These projects will be incredibly popular with our middle school students during their recess time, and will be available to community members outside of school hours. This approval follows the RTM vote which allocated ARPA funds for a new high/low ropes course at Staples High School, a program that supports team building, leadership, collaboration and overall social/emotional development. The elementary proposals will be presented at an upcoming RTM meeting for approval following endorsement by the Board of Education.
“You told a lie, an odious damned lie.”
The fleeting and swift nature of communication in the modern world enables false messages to gain traction. Given the pace and volume of this phenomenon, I am ordinarily not inclined to respond to rumors. However, when there is time and justification, I will offer clarification.
This past weekend, messages were sent in the community alleging that our schools canceled the offering of a Shakespeare course at Staples High School, some going so far as to claim this action was based on ideology.
To be clear, these allegations are categorically false. In fact, the Shakespeare elective was taught today at Staples High School. Along with countless other electives, our high school offers a Shakespeare course in the English department. Like the other electives, this course only runs when there are sufficient enrollment numbers. This year there were enough student requests to offer the course. However, not enough students requested the course for next year and it will not run. This happens to all elective courses. Given the pattern over the years, I suspect the Shakespeare elective will run again in the future.
With just over a month to go in the school year, I would like to wish everyone an energizing spring!! This time of renewal coincides with culminating activities in our schools and the anticipation of summer.
As full of spirit as the month of May, and gorgeous as the sun at midsummer: (Henry IV, Part 1, Act IV, Scene i)
Thank you for all of your support for our faculty and support staff.
Superintendent of Schools