New Canaan selectmen say faculty begin time modifications ‘not about cash,’ superintendent weighs in

An email from a mother received during a meeting of the Board of Selectmen about later start times prompted the Selectmen to comment on the one in the Board of Education budget of $ 95 million.

The school budget includes $ 463,337 spending to allow New Canaan High School students to have late mid-year start times. However, following a three-tier bus schedule would force the district’s younger students to get on their buses earlier.

Under the proposed schedule, the three elementary schools would start at 7:45 a.m., New Canaan High School at 8:30 a.m., the upper seventh and eighth grades of Saxe Middle School at 8:35 a.m., and Saxe lower division at 8:35 a.m. Fifth and sixth graders heard the first bell at 9:15 a.m.

New Canaan’s East Elementary and West Elementary Schools currently start at 9:05 am, while South Elementary School starts at 8:15 am

The school budget is $ 378,668 for seven buses, so three elementary schools can be bused at the same time.

In the Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, January 28thKevin Moynihan, First Selectman, said, “Maybe the solution is more buses to accommodate everyone.”

This proposal would require more fines and therefore higher costs.

At that meeting, the chosen ones unanimously agreed to their budget recommendation, which includes City Department operating expenses of $ 29.25 million, an increase of 2.39% over the 2020-21 budget moved on to the Board of Education’s operations budget, which was set at $ 95.42 millionThis corresponds to an increase of 3.25% compared to the last budget.

Calling the Later Start Times Initiative the “most controversial issue in the city of the decade,” Moynihan said, “It’s not really about money. (The Board of Education) has to decide what is best for the children. “

“It’s not that we don’t care,” he continued. “We don’t vote on the starting times for school.”

“Exactly. I don’t think it’s a money problem,” said Selectman Nick Williams.

Superintendent Bryan Luizzi later spoke to Hearst Connecticut Media about Moynihan’s proposal.

“We’d probably have to triple our bus capacity as we currently have three levels and you’re talking about transporting all of the students at the same time,” he said. “That would triple our transport budget.”

During the elect’s meeting, Administrator Tucker Murphy notified the elect that an email had been received regarding a change in school start times. They didn’t ask her to read it, but it sparked discussion.

Brooke Santulli, the author of the first correspondence, has children attending West Elementary School and has been vehemently against the proposed change in school starting times.

She doesn’t want her children to wait in the dark for buses, she said. “They barely get enough sleep the way they are, and waking up earlier is completely unreasonable and against the science that they should get 10 to 12 hours a night. Which child goes to bed at 6 p.m.? “, Wrote Santulli.

Santulli said she understood why it was positive for students to sleep later. “It is terrible that positive change for them would come at the expense of our elementary school children. What a terrible decision. Please do not approve the change to the school start times. “

Selectman Kathleen Corbet noticed the frustration of parents like Santulli and announced that the board of directors is receiving numerous letters on the matter. “I know it’s very emotional,” she said.

“I respect the fact that parents of younger children have real concerns that they ignore. That’s why we have an education authority, ”said Moynihan.

Selectman Nick Williams said he saw both sides of the argument. He also noted that this is an issue that has “been on his radar for a long time”. Corbert agreed.

“It was a problem when my children were in school and I appreciate what the elected education committee has been through in terms of evaluating back-to-school times,” said Corbet.

Luizzi raised concerns about transporting the students on a bus stop. “The need to order so many buses and hire so many drivers is a significant hurdle to such an approach, as is Saxe Middle School which currently can only accommodate 50% of the school on arrival and discharge due to facility limitations . “

At the meetings of the Education Committee, Luizzi also raised concerns about a shortage of bus drivers.

“In addition, many buses on the roads would have a devastating impact on traffic at the same time, particularly at the Farm Road and South Avenue intersection and on the nearby streets,” said Luizzi.

Another option the Board of Education was considering In April 2020, New Canaan High School and the district’s three elementary schools are scheduled to share one level, while Saxe Middle School is on top of another. It would require more fines and was valued at $ 1.2 to $ 1.4 million.

The elect generally only discuss the school capital budget and not the operating budget as it is not under their authority, Moynihan said.

The first chosen will be able to vote on it later as they cut ties with the 12-person city council. “This is a separate responsibility based on the activities of the finance committee and the city council,” Moynihan said.

The selectmen’s budget will be forwarded to the CFO for review this month. His recommendation will then be forwarded to the city council by March 4th. The city council can approve, cut or reject the budget of the finance committee at a meeting scheduled for March 31st.