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Opinion: Duff’s bill is wrong-headed intrusion on municipalities

Sen. Bob Duff’s bill allowing mayors to appoint the chair of the board of education in municipalities where the education budget comprises more than 50 percent of the overall municipality’s budget is wrong-headed.

Sen. Duff (D-25) has provided a weak explanation to justify this proposal: “elected officials of a community are the one that put budgets to their residents and ultimately are held accountable.” Duff is suggesting the mayor is held accountable for the board of education budget, so the mayor should have more power over it. Continue reading Opinion: Duff’s bill is wrong-headed intrusion on municipalities

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Barbis e-mail revealed pettiness, lack of understanding

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The following is an open letter to Mike Barbis, Chairman of the Norwalk Board of Education.

We, as the Board of the NAACP, were surprised by your email, dated Friday October 5, 2018 to Board of Education members, suggesting that Board of Education members and staff not attend the NAACP’s annual Freedom Fund Gala. Your letter is unfortunate on many levels, especially since all the proceeds of the event provide scholarships to students from Norwalk Public Schools. This event is attended by both national and state congresspeople, city officials, and leaders in education and industry, as well as “ordinary” citizens who prize the kindness, unity, diversity, common sense and comradeship that are intrinsic to this event. Continue reading Barbis e-mail revealed pettiness, lack of understanding

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Norwalkers make impassioned pitches for athletic fields, school improvements

Dawn DiNoto speaks on behalf of her Norwalk Tops Soccer players, surrounding her, at Wednesday’s Planning Commission public hearing on the 2019-20 capital budget, in the City Hall community room. The Tracey Elementary School field is “not safe but we make the best of it,” she said.

NORWALK, Conn. – The state of Norwalk’s athletic fields and schools brought an unusually robust crowd to Wednesday’s Planning Commission public hearing on the capital budget.

“The city has been very, very generous in terms of turfing several of our fields here in Norwalk,” Norwalk High School Athletic Director Doug Marchetti said. “I hate to say it, but it still doesn’t seem like it’s enough. … Sometimes we are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole in terms of trying to meet the needs and accommodate all of the groups that want to use the fields that we currently have at our disposal… I think another field would just ease the crunch city-wide and again provide a viable safe surface for all people in Norwalk to utilize.”

“Sixty years old, this building looks disgusting and it needs to get renovated,” David Young said about Cranbury Elementary School. “We have an opportunity to give these kids some way to kind of explore and know what it is going into a lunch line instead of going into a gymnasium. Some separation between church and state for that.” Continue reading Norwalkers make impassioned pitches for athletic fields, school improvements

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Duff blasts Board of Ed Chairman; Penn-Williams: he should ‘step down’

Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis, Tuesday in City Hall.

Updated, 8:15 a.m.: Copy edits, revised headline

NORWALK, Conn. – Multiple Norwalk Dems on Thursday blasted fellow Democrat and Board of Ed Chair Mike Barbis for urging board members not to attend an NAACP fundraiser.  Mayor Harry Rilling called Barbis’s move “very disturbing” and State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) described it as part of a “less than sensitive” pattern.

Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams said many people have reached out to her to say that Barbis should step down.

“I agree,” Penn-Williams said. “We cannot have a person like this leading the Norwalk Public Schools. He is supposed to be for all students, not a select few.” Continue reading Duff blasts Board of Ed Chairman; Penn-Williams: he should ‘step down’

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Judge orders ‘POKO’ defendants to cough up documents sought by Norwalk, RDA

Norwalk real estate broker Jason Milligan, Wednesday in Stamford Superior Court.

Updated, 8:29 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Jason Milligan’s legal entities took multiple hits Wednesday as the judge in the lawsuit filed by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and the City of Norwalk ruled against his legal motions.

Judge Charles Lee denied Milligan’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s application for an injunctive order and ruled against a request to further delay depositions demanded by the plaintiffs.  Another legal entity in the case, mortgage company CC Rivington, was ordered to divulge its members and provide multiple documents requested by the City and Redevelopment Agency.  Continue reading Judge orders ‘POKO’ defendants to cough up documents sought by Norwalk, RDA

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BoE Chair discouraged members from attending NAACP event; NPS denied Penn-Williams sub work

Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams. (File photo)

Updated, 12:53 p.m.: Additional information, revised headline; 9:06 a.m.: revised headline; 8:36 a.m.: Copy edits, revised headline

NORWALK, Conn. – Last fall, Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis urged BoE members not to attend the annual Norwalk NAACP Freedom Fund banquet because NAACP leadership made what Barbis described as “very serious false allegations and attacks” on the Board and administration.

NancyOnNorwalk learned of the request while looking into a tip that Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams was removed from the school substitute list shortly after a contentious back-and-forth with Barbis at the Sept. 25 BoE meeting. Penn-Williams on Jan. 21 confirmed that she’d been removed from the list and alleged that Barbis had told BoE members not to go to Martin Luther King Day events.  None had attended the MLK events, she said, and only one attended to the NAACP’s Oct. 19 Freedom Fund banquet.

Barbis told BoE members not to go, Penn-Williams said she was told by a “reliable, reliable source.”  Continue reading BoE Chair discouraged members from attending NAACP event; NPS denied Penn-Williams sub work

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Norwalk High students struggle with bathroom shortage

Parent Susan Lanzerotto speaks to the Norwalk Board of Education, Tuesday in City Hall, as shown in the Norwalk Public Schools video.

Updated, 10:02 a.m.: NHS enrollment is 1770 students.  8:49 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Concerns about teenagers vaping has led to a shortage of bathrooms at Norwalk High School.

“I feel a little silly coming here and talking about this topic but it has been lingering on and I think it needs to be addressed,” parent Susan Lanzerotto said to the Board of Education on Tuesday.  For at least two months the school’s 1,770 students have only had two bathrooms open per gender for most of the day, with a third one open at lunch, Lanzerotto said.

“To me, this is a health issue, particularly because we are in the peak of the cold and the flu season. That means 800 students are using two restrooms. That is crazy, crazy, crazy,” she said. “Numerous parents have called and tried to get this changed but most have not gotten any answers, except that ‘it’s because of vaping, and we don’t have enough security to open more of the bathrooms.’” Continue reading Norwalk High students struggle with bathroom shortage

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Opinion: Wall Street–West Avenue Redevelopment Plan should be rejected

The members of the Wall Street Neighborhood Association (“WSNA”) have read and are in unanimous agreement that the foundation of the Wall Street – West Avenue Redevelopment Plan (“the Plan”) is flawed and grossly inaccurate. As such we strongly recommend the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency (“NRA”) Commissioners reject the Plan outright for reasons noted below.

The foundation of the Plan relies upon Connecticut General Statute Chapter 130, Section 8-125(7).  This Statute requires a determination of blight for at least 20 percent of the buildings in a potential Plan area.  If that threshold of blight is met, or exceeded, then the NRA has the authority to request control over this area with the express intent of mitigating the blighted condition within the Plan area. Continue reading Opinion: Wall Street–West Avenue Redevelopment Plan should be rejected

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Norwalk roundup: Chess competitor, Maritime Aquarium, NRVT & an NCC movie

From left, Erin Strauts, SoNo DIG chess coach, Redmond Little, and Dan Pelletier, DIG founder. (Contributed)

NORWALK, Conn. – Some Norwalk announcements for you:

  • SoNo Branch Library chess club member wins CT tourney
  • NCC offers movie Thursday
  • Maritime Aquarium seeks volunteers
  • Norwalk River Valley Trail expands to Redding, via $300,000 grant

Continue reading Norwalk roundup: Chess competitor, Maritime Aquarium, NRVT & an NCC movie

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Norwalk BoE defends Costanzo

Norwalk Public Schools Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalkers are reacting to the news that the New Haven Board of Education spent $150,000 on a legal settlement involving Frank Costanzo, now Norwalk Public Schools Chief of School Operations.

The New Haven Register on Friday published a story offering that dollar figure, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, and quoting New Haven Board of Education President Darnell Goldson as saying, “I am never comfortable when the Board of Education has to pay money from kids’ education to pay for lawsuits as a result of wrongdoing by employees or others of the New Haven Public Schools.”

“They are saying he was sexually harassing,” Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams said Friday. “That doesn’t look good. He should not be employed by the Norwalk Public Schools.” Continue reading Norwalk BoE defends Costanzo

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NPS notes achievements: Tracey, NECA and hardworking high school students

Tracey Elementary School Principal Theresa Rangel speaks to the Norwalk Board of Education Curriculum Committee in December.

Updated, 9:15 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Some Norwalk Public Schools announcements for you:

  • Tracey Elementary School named a 2019 Connecticut School of Character
  • NPS high school students headed for Connecticut State Seal of Biliteracy
  • NECA approved as separate school

Continue reading NPS notes achievements: Tracey, NECA and hardworking high school students

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Opinion: A new program of study for four high schools

Board of Education members Bruce Kimmel, Julie Corbett, Erik Anderson, and Barbara Meyer-Mitchell comprise the Board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee.

The most complex and expensive initiative in the Board of Education’s strategic operating plan, adopted three years ago, was changing the graduation requirement at our high schools from a minimum of 20 to 26 credits – which conforms to the state’s recommendation for modern high schools. For years, too many of our high school students had multiple study halls most days simply because there were not enough course offerings. For years, too many of them were ill-prepared for the SAT and ACT exams through no fault of their own.

The high school initiative, phased in over four years, required the board to hire additional staff; this year alone there are an additional twenty teachers in our high schools, and next year will probably require five more teachers. The expanded curriculum also required reworking the high school program of study as new courses and career pathways were developed. Continue reading Opinion: A new program of study for four high schools

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Census expert warns Norwalkers: mobilize to ensure accurate count

Terri Ann Lowenthal, a Stamford resident, speaks at a Jan. 27 League of Women Voters forum in Norwalk High School. “You might be thinking that 2020 is a ways away but I am here to tell you to think again because in census world we are in the homestretch,” she said. “… Peak census operations start in less than a year.” (Harold Cobin)

NORWALK, Conn. – If a “perfect storm” derails the 2020 Census, Congress won’t be reapportioned and there will be far-reaching consequences, census expert Terri Ann Lowenthal said at a recent Norwalk forum.

Among other issues, under-representation of communities of color could be accentuated, Lowenthal said at a Jan. 27 League of Women Voters forum in Norwalk High School.

“The bottom line is that lawmakers and civic leaders can’t make smart decisions and you can’t hold them accountable without an accurate census,” she said.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story Continue reading Census expert warns Norwalkers: mobilize to ensure accurate count

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