Moments after the Legislative Council voted to send the 2014-15 town and school budget requests to referendum, resident and longtime school supporter Kinga Walsh thanked officials for their efforts. She also challenged them to help get it passed, asking council members to work side-by-side with other advocates promoting passage of the spending plan. Several council members have already stepped up, agreeing to produce videos talking about why they voted for the proposal and why they believe taxpayers should as well. Voters will make up their minds on the bifurcated, or split, town and school budgets April 22 when they are called to the Newtown Middle School to cast their votes between 6 am and 8 pm. On April 2, the council endorsed sending a request for $111,066,204 to voters to cover town and school services, along with annual debt service for capital projects, which is carried in the Board of Selectmen budget.
The Board of Education unanimously voted to have “reduction in force” notifications shared with nontenured staff in the district who may or may not have their positions renewed for the 2014-15 school year, during its meeting on Tuesday, April 8. According Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Gejda, a state statute requires that school district staff be notified by May 1 if their contract will not be or will potentially not be renewed for the following school year.The list of staff supplied to the school board during the meeting, according to Dr Gejda, included positions that are nonrenewals for budgetary reasons, one-year contract positions, and long-term substitutes. Individuals whose positions are currently being funded by grants will also be notified, according to Dr Gejda, until the district learns whether the grants will be awarded to the district again. For the second meeting in a row, the board also honored Newtown High School athletes.
Flight engineers on the International Space Station helped Sandy Hook Elementary School students celebrate the end of the school’s One School One Read program on Tuesday, April 8.Seated inside Monroe’s Chalk Hill Middle School’s Lecture Hall, Sandy Hook School third and fourth grade students faced a projection of a Skype conversation with two astronauts, Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson. The conversation was also shared live so students across the school and family members could tune in.
Tuesday’s event was the culmination of this year’s One School One Read, a program that has the entire school community read the same book at the same time, which was How Do You Burp in Space? And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know by Susan E. Goodman.
The month of March was a busy one for legislators concerned about the proliferation of e-cigarette use among the country’s youth, the lack of regulation for sales of e-cigarettes to minors at state and federal levels, and advertising directed at young people that glamorizes “vaping” in much the same way that conventional cigarettes were once marketed. On March 12, Governor Dannel P. Malloy introduced legislation to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes, electronic delivery systems, and other vapor products to those under the age of 18. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or vape pens, are currently not regulated in the state. Local health officials and school leaders have concerns about the marketing of these products, which have not been submitted to the FDA for evaluation or approval.
The Department of Revenue Services (DRS) offered a reminder on April 7 to taxpayers who received Sandy Hook Workers Assistance payments: that income is not taxable in Connecticut. “Governor Malloy wants to be sure those workers who stepped up during the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are able to receive the full benefit of state assistance payments,” said DRS Commissioner Kevin Sullivan. “One important benefit is exclusion of these payments from adjusted gross income for state income tax purposes." Taxpayers who already filed but forgot to exclude this income will be advised to file amended returns and receive any refund due because of this state income modification, according to the commissioner.
At about 8:12 pm on Saturday, March 29, about 25 volunteer firefighters responded to an automatic alarm from a home at 54 Mt Pleasant Road where a system used to electrically heat drainage gutters failed, causing a house fire, officials said. Fire officials described damage to the house as moderate to significant. A damage estimate was not available. There were no injuries. Two women were home at the time of the fire at the residence, which lies just west of Mt Pleasant Road’s intersection with Diamond Drive. Fire Marshal Bill Halstead said that an electrically powered system, which is used to heat drainage gutters on the house, apparently failed, resulting in the accidental blaze. The fire occurred at the rear section of the house, he said.
When the state’s child welfare agency announced it needed to open a locked facility for troubled girls who break the law, state legislators had a list of questions they needed answers to if they were going to give the Department of Children and Families the $2.6 million needed each year to operate the center. Weeks later, the state agency has answered the 20 questions posed to them by legislators, the General Assembly’s budget-writing committee has signed off on funding the new program, and girls now live at the 12-bed facility. “What made me really conclude that this was the right time to do this, I looked at the numbers,” DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said.
Gun rights activists gathered outside the Connecticut State Capitol and protest the one-year anniversary of the state’s wide-ranging gun control law. The legislation was signed into law on April 4, 2013, in response to 12/14. A pro-gun rights organization, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, organized the Saturday afternoon rally. CCDL President Scott Wilson said the group wanted to show it is determined to see the law overturned in federal court or repealed by the General Assembly.