While continuing its review of the superintendent’s proposed operating budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, the Board of Education took up the topic of security during its workshop meeting on Thursday, January 30.Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed presented his proposed budget on January 23, and the Board of Education began hearing from advocates for different parts of the budget that night. The superintendent’s proposed operating budget for 2014-15 totals $71,580,034, which reflects a $534,730, or a 0.75 percent, increase over the 2013-14 fiscal year.By January 28, the school board had heard from school principals, Director of Pupil Services Julie Haggard, and Newtown Continuing Education Director Elissa Gellis. On January 30, the board heard about its curriculum and technology budgets, general services and security, the plant operations and maintenance budget, the transportation budget, and employee benefits. Potential security costs in the budget took up the largest portion of the discussion in the January 30 session.
At 18 degrees and sunny, carpenters with Nosal Builders worked steadily Wednesday to get the roof structure in place. Clerk of the Works Brian Feeney said the progress on the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corp’s new ambulance garage is “going really well.” So far, the roughly $4.5 million project that broke ground in mid-2013, is on schedule, he said.
Roofing trusses were going into place this week and that phase of the roof should be completed in a few weeks, Mr Feeney said.
First Selectman Pat Llodra is seeking residents to fill several opening on local appointed boards and commissions. In some cases the appointments are required to be affiliated with a specific political party, while in other cases unaffiliated voters are encouraged to consider serving.
A federal judge in Hartford Thursday dismissed a constitutional challenge to the sweeping gun-control legislation passed in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook School massacre.
Gun owners challenged the law on several fronts, including what the state called "an absolutist" Second Amendment claim that the possession of types of semiautomatic rifles and large-capacity magazines banned under the law was a constitutionally guaranteed right.
"The court concludes that the legislation is constitutional," wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello. "While the act burdens the plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important governmental interest of public safety and crime control."
Newtown police said that after learning that they held warrants for his arrest, a former resident came to the police station on January 24 and was charged with 186 counts of violation of a protective order. Police said that William A. Bruno, 44, of New Haven came to the police station and was arrested on the charges, after which he was released on $100,000 bail for a January 27 arraignment in Danbury Superior Court. The 186 charges are felonies. One warrant listed one count based on an August 25, 2013, incident, and the other warrant listed 185 counts based on incidents that occurred from June 26 to August 26, 2013.
Fire Marshal Bill Halstead noted this week that during the past year, malfunctioning clothes dryers have caused three structure fires in town. Most recently, on January 2, a malfunctioning clothes dryer caused a house fire on Thunder Ridge Road in Sandy Hook that resulted in approximately $500,000 in property damage. Consequently, Mr Halstead is offering residents some safety tips about clothes dryers. The leading cause of home dryer fires is failure to clean those dryers.
Most taxpayers have little or no interest in municipal sewers, unless they stop working. But the Board of Finance has approved funding the construction phase of a Hawleyville sewer extension that is expected to serve as a catalyst for significant economic development in the area. That prospect could provide measurable relief for residential taxpayers if large-scale commercial developments expected to tie into that new sewer extension help offset residential taxation in the coming years. At a 45-minute presentation by Public Works Director Fred Hurley on January 23, during which he formally requested a $2.8 million appropriation designated for that project in the Capital Improvement Plan, the public works head reviewed a benefit assessment that identifies the potential cost to owners of properties that would be tied into the sewer.
Newtown Middle School eighth graders were recognized during the Regional Hospice and Home Care Annual Meeting in Danbury earlier this month. Paul L. Sirois, newly appointed executive director of the Regional Hospice Foundation, was pleased to recognize the seven Newtown Middle School students who make up the Kids In Deed Organization (KIDOs) with youth service awards for remarkable fundraising efforts. The students have pledged to raise $50,000 to pay for the playground equipment that will be placed outside the wing that houses Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children and Families. As of November KIDOs had raised nearly $28,000.
For the second meeting in a row, Board of Finance Joe Kearney spent time reviewing school enrollment and budget trends. While most of the core data he reviewed was the same as information Mr Kearney initially presented on January 23, he did adjust the coming year’s data to accommodate the 0.75 percent increase that Interim Superintendent John Reed requested from the Board of Education during a meeting on the same evening.
Mr Kearney’s review also updated school enrollment projections from the overall number of 4,951 to 4,716 — a figure the school board is using in its 2014-15 budget proposal.