Some early afternoon rain did not put a damper on the first day of school for the Darien district. Principals, teachers and staff welcomed students back to class this morning. Superintendent Stephen Falcone visited each school during lunchtime on Monday to see how the day was going.
Falcone told The Darien Times that the first part of the day went well, starting with pick-ups on the morning bus routes. The bus drivers will do their first full run on the afternoon route today.
“We will continue to make adjustments based on what we learn in these first days and into next week,” Falcone said. Parents can look for route updates on Darien public school’s website.
The superintendent said that both students and teachers seemed excited. Falcone met with some new students and noticed “a great comfort level.”
Darien experienced heavy rain in the early afternoon, but it tapered off before 3 p.m. Falcone said he hoped dismissal would go smoothly despite “inclement weather.”
The elementary school principals confirmed that their students were ready for the school year. Holmes School has two additional sections this year for third and first grade. Principal Paula Bleakley said that some staff members have to share offices this year.
“We have great collaborative staff,” Bleakley said. “They’ve embraced it.”
Mary Michelson, principal at Tokeneke School participated in the tours for new kindergarten families. “The children and parents are great,” she said. Kindergarten had their first full day on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
Ox Ridge Principal Luke Forshaw said he met with some parents, as well as students who had “kindergarten jitters.”
Forshaw gave a lot of credit to the central office, which he said works hard to make sure that the buses run on time. The only hitch in the day, Forshaw said, was when he had to cancel recess for third grade due to the bad weather.
At Royle, Principal Keith Margolus visited classrooms and asked students to raise their hand to indicate if they were excited. “Frequently students put up both hands as one hand just wasn’t a strong enough way to express their excitement,” Margolus told the Times in an e-mail.
Middlesex also had a “smooth” opening. “Teachers did a great job and the kids are excited to be here,” Principal Debi Boccanfuso said.
At Hindley, new students were assigned a buddy to sit with and talk to all day. The students were very excited, according to Principal Rita Ferri. She said that when she saw rain drops outside, she started to worry. Luckily, it stopped before dismissal.
At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Falcone thanked teachers and staff, as well as the parents for their hard work. He noted that the main office will continue to track enrollment but the extra sections that were added this summer remain. They will also give continuous curriculum updates from the Professional Learning Communities.
A first, introductory Spanish class is scheduled for Sept. 10 even though the district still has to hire one more teacher. Currently, Gina Guerrero, Marisa Keen, Meghan Moore and Veronica Spedaliere are on staff. Keen and Moore are Darien High School graduates. “They’ve already started visiting schools at lunchtime and hanging out in the cafeteria,” said Dr. Judith Pandolfo, assistant superintendent of elementary education, at the meeting. The district aims to have the curriculum ready by mid-October. Until a curriculum is in place, all students will have “library” listed on their schedules instead of a Spanish block. Chairman Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross asked the superintendents to let parents know about this delay to avoid confusion.
Construction at 35 Leroy is scheduled to begin on Oct. 4, said Mike Lynch, director of facilities and operations. The town will take bids for asbestos removal on Aug. 30 and bids for contractors are expected back on Sep. 12. The tentative move in date is Feb. 16, 2013. “Winter weather will not slow this project down because there’s very little work on the exterior,” added Richard Huot, director of finance.
There will be a special education committee meeting on Sept. 5 at 8:30 a.m. The next Board of Education meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 11.
Kindergarten at Tokeneke, Hindley and Royle will be dismissed at 12:25 p.m. from Tuesday, Aug. 28 through Friday, Sept. 7. Holmes and Ox Ridge kindergarten dismissal will be 1 p.m. this week. According to Darien public school’s website, parents should look for mail from their schools principal with additional dismissal information.
More info: darienps.org