New school year starts Thursday in Westport
Ready or not, the new school year starts Thursday in Westport.
One possible problem to a smooth first day is posed by delays to school buses traveling across the North Avenue bridge, where only one lane of traffic — alternating to accommodate vehicles headed in both directions — will be open. The reconstruction of the span over the Merritt Parkway was initially expected to be finished by mid-August, but work is now projected to take until late October.
The town has reached agreement with the state Department of Transportation that will allow for the alternating, one-way traffic on the bridge from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. — weekdays only — as a way to mitigate expected delays in the school district’s bus schedule.
Superintendent of Schools Elliot Landon said Wednesday “there should be only very slight delays on some of the routes affected.”
Landon and town officials have asked parents to have their children travel to school via bus, instead of driving them, to decrease traffic volume and minimize delays.
Landon also said the school district’s Bring Your Own Device policy, is “we believe, ready to go.” Staples students, beginning this school year, are required to bring an electronic device to school for daily use in connection with studies.
He said both teachers and students “have been prepared ahead of time” about what that policy entails.
This year, Landon said, there will be 1,900 students at Staples, plus approximately 1,400 students at the middle school level and 2,400 attending elementary schools.
Of the Staples enrollment, Board of Education Chairman Michael Gordon said the school “has been over capacity for the past few years and projections have it continuing to grow.” He added that’s something the school board “may take a serious look at this year.”
Landon said there are also a number of other new school administrators: John Bayers, director of human resources and general administration; Kevin Cazzetta, principal at Greens Farms School; Jeffrey Golubchick, principal at Long Lots School, and Joanne Vale, interim principal at Kings Highway School. Also Ryan Betts, assistant principal at Saugatuck Elementary School; Molly Farrell, assistant principal at Long Lots School; Andrew Hill, 6-12 mathematics chairman, and Ellen Israel, director of continuing education.
“We're excited that the new school year has a number of promotions from within our ranks, including the new director of human resources and the new principal of Greens Farms, who returned to the district to take this position,” Gordon said.
He said the school board is in the process of selecting a new superintendent of schools to replace Landon, who will retire at the end of this academic year.
“We have been planning over the summer and are beginning community outreach next week with a public survey and two forums” on Sept. 1 and 10, he said.
“These are open to parents and the entire community,” he added. “The purpose of the public input is to give members of the community an opportunity to share their views on the future of the district and the desired qualities of the next superintendent.”
Gordon said this early input “will help the board as it goes through the search process and selects the next superintendent.”