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Weston School Board Modifies 2012-13 Calendar

The Weston Board of Education put the calendar debate to rest in a unanimous vote following a discussion of the proposed modifications' pros and cons.

The compromised on an adjusted 2012-2013 school calendar, which was changed in anticipation of future weather-related cancelations.

School will begin on Monday, August 27, 2012. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will become a full day off, instead of the current half-day, and February break, the subject of much debate among parents and board members alike, will be shortened to a long weekend instead of the current full-week. 

The suggestion to move spring break to late March did not pass; spring break will remain as a full week in April.

According to , the calendar changes were suggested as a way to minimize weather-related disruptions while also ensuring flexibility.

"We tried to 'weatherproof' the calendar," Palmer said. 

The district sent an online survey to parents in the hopes of gathering a consensus of opinion. Fifty-five percent of survey respondents supported moving spring break to the last week of March.

"I'm not sure that's a slam dunk," said Palmer.

Slightly less than half of 1,200 Weston's school families replied to the survey.

Board members Richard Bochinski, Denise Harvey, Dana Levin and Sonya Stack each expressed reservations about moving spring break for a variety of reasons. 

"How much change can the community absorb at one time?" Stack wondered, expressing concern that the combination of the early start plus the shortened February break would send residents into a tailspin.

Stack also observed that "it doesn't make practical sense" to close school so soon after the February break, only to then have a long period of time to wait before school ends; however, she suggested that revisiting a March break may be useful in 2015, after the state eliminates the current CMT examinations.

Levin noted that moving spring break to March would negatively affect many families' vacation plans, as that is when Passover will be celebrated in 2013.

"You can't really go away on vacation then," she noted.

Harvey agreed with Stack that families may not have "enough time to digest changes," while also sharing concerns about the proposed March break.

Vice Chairman Ellen Uzenoff, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Chairman Philip Schaefer, said she "strongly supported" the March break but understood why others had reservations.

"Everyone has an opinion," she said, noting that many residents would likely be upset by the changes.

"Our job is not to make everyone happy," Uzenoff observed, "but to [do our best] by the children."

Board member Nina Daniel did not attend the meeting.

Weston Earns Federal Energy Star Award

Two years of hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy savings were enough for the U.S. Department of Energy's Environmental Protection Agency to name Weston Schools an Energy Star Leader at the twenty percent level, which the Board accepted.

Weston is the first district in the state of Connecticut to earn a Leader Award from the EPA.

"It did sound all too good to be true" when the project first started, said board member Richard Bochinski, "but I do want to congratulate you," he continued, speaking to Director of Finance and Operations Jo-Ann Keating and District Energy Manager Dave Lustberg.

Keating successfully negotiated reduced rates for the district, saving $67,000. Lustberg managed the energy education and equipment upgrade processes, which saved the rest.

Over two years, the district's savings after all costs accumulated to $530,521, the energy equivalent of removing 498 cars from the road for one year or planting 71,000 trees.

The board commended Hurlbutt Elementary School, which saved more percentage-wise at 31 percent than any other student building. The board also commended Weston Middle School as the "most improved" building; the Middle School saved 21 percent two years ago, and 29 percent during the last energy year, which begins November 1.

The Board of Education improved energy efficiency in its building by 65 percent.

"I have to make an appointment for heat when I want to work on the weekends," Palmer smiled, noting Lustberg's full-time dedication to the initiative.

In other board news:

  • The board unanimously approved two new courses at Weston High School. The courses, Introduction to Economics and Entrepreneurship and Anatomy and Physiology, will not require additional faculty.
  • The board approved three collective bargaining agreement items. Stipends for individual training and the head custodian, as well as provisions for sick leave pay, were approved unanimously.
  • The board accepted two donations from the Weston High School Parent Teacher Organization. The first, a $15,000 donation, is earmarked for year two of . The PTO also donated funds for the purchase of three digital SLR cameras for the art department.
  • The school's website will be modified in 2012 to accommodate a host of user-friendly features, including one-click links to social media as well as a modified domain name, "www.WestonPS.org." Beginning in summer 2012, emails sent to the school will use the "WestonPS" domain instead of "WestonK12-CT.org." There will also be a companion mobile application that will make site access from a smartphone much easier.

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