The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year Is Here: Orange Students Go Back To School

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Sep 022014

BACK Home at Peck Place School

BACK Home at Peck Place School

Students big and small returned to school this morning in Orange and across the Amity area.

Kent Pierce from WTNH-8 showed up at Peck Place School and took a mini-tour of the inside with Principal Eric Carbone.

Orange Live walked through with Mike Luzzi, Board of Ed Chairman Bill Kraut and Board member Jeff Cap as they checked out the indoor climate control.

The new cooling system was obviously working very well. First-grade Teacher Patty Moffett stood in the doorway of her classroom ready to greet her students and start a new year.

“I love it,” Moffett said of her bright new classroom. The new shelving was installed over the past week and everything was set.


Over in the second-grade section, Teacher Kelly Stevens remarked on how wonderfully quiet the new heating/cooling units are.

Ms Stevens waits for her class to arrive.

Ms Stevens waits for her class to arrive.were.

Stevens has been preparing her classroom for the past two months, and the shelving installation was the icing on the cake. Once they were finished she was able to perfect her classroom’s look.

She thanked the two board members for giving them the minimal schedule for the remainder of the week so everyone can finish.

This morning, in her classroom, everything was “perfect” and the only thing that was missing was the students — But they were on the way.

Carbone greeted the children as they stepped off the school busses. There were no tears, not even from the smallest kids.

Everyone was excited to get into the “new” Peck Place School.



The scene at Mary L. Tracy was entertaining as usual with the largest crowd of paparazzi (parents with cameras and smart phones.)

IMG_7750There were some tears, but nothing uncontrollable, just a little jitters.

The children stepped off the bus, walked past the paparazzi and then led up the stairs where someone greeted them and brought them into the gymnasium to meet their new teachers.

It looks like it’s going to be a good school year.


Photos of the kids will be published only after they are approved by the schools. Hopefully by tomorrow.






What the Superintendent Has To Say About the Orange Elementary School Situation

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Feb 172014

BOE Chairman Bill Kraut and Supt. Lynn McMullin at a recent BOE meeting.

BOE Chairman Bill Kraut and Supt. Lynn McMullin at a recent BOE meeting.

Following is an update of the Orange Elementary Schools from Supt. Lynn McMullin Posted on the OESS Website.

There are several issues, each of which has a strong rumor base, attracting attention in our district right
now. They are: 1. the progress of the remediation of Peck Place and its relationship to a ‘contingency
plan’; 2. the 2014 – 2015 budget and its related issues such as class sizes and the capital improvements
needed at the schools; and 3. as yet unresolved key issues, such as extending the day for kindergarten
and our current calendar.

With so many people offering suggestions, ideas and opinions, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the
facts. This communication is intended to update you as to the status of each of these, knowing that next
week could bring changes. In addition, I wrote the DRAFT of a contingency plan, as I was directed to do,
and I was able to share that with the Board of Education yesterday. Some in the community have seen
it, so I am sharing now sharing the draft with all. Find it also attached to the news update.

Here’s an update on the many items which are on your mind and in my inbox, easiest items first:
1. Our snow day on Friday, February 14th brought us to the last day of school being Friday, June
20th. The next snow day will come off of April vacation, as was decided In March 2013 with the
passing of the district calendar. There will not be changes made in that district calendar because
our staff and families trust it and rely on it to make plans and reservations. However, we do
have 181 days in our student calendar; state law requires only 180.

2. My proposal for an extended-day kindergarten pilot was tabled until the next BOE meeting on
March 10th at 7:30. This proposal was presented in February, so it is posted on the BOE section
of the webpage in the ‘Minutes’ tab. The proposal is thorough, and no additional information
needs to be added here. There was much discussion, but no decision about the proposal as a
motion was made to table and passed 6-4.

3. There are three important meetings this week. The two BOE meetings (a. and c. below) are
‘meetings in public’ not ‘public meetings’ which means people are more than free to attend, but
do not participate in the conversation.

a. The BOE Buildings and Grounds Sub-Committee is meeting Tuesday night, February 18,
at 5:00 p.m. upstairs in the Board room. The agenda in posted on the district’s webpage
in the Board section under the ‘Agendas’ tab. The only agenda item is updates regarding
Peck; the BOE will be planning for the upcoming meeting with the BOS on Wednesday.

b. A meeting with the Board of Selectmen, Wednesday, February 19, at 5:00 at Town Hall.

c. A ‘Marathon Budget’ meeting from 5:00 – 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 20th
in which  the BOE will meet individually with each department or principal, in ½ hour intervals,
beginning with Technology and ending with Central Office. I will post the schedule for  the budget meeting in the ‘Agendas’ on Tuesday. I will try to address the remaining, more complex issues, which are becoming interwoven, in a clear and  understandable way.

1. My goal and the goal of the Board of Education has always been and continues to be the
remediation of Peck Place School. I used the words “clean and pristine” to describe this goal,
and those words have been widely quoted. That remediation goal ends with our staff and
students returning to a much improved, cleaner, and healthier Peck in late August. That goal
includes a plan for floors, ceilings, insulation, and heat/air univents for the classrooms. In
addition, we would be prudent to go out to bid and put the new roof on before the interior work
is complete.

2. It is true that work at Peck has currently been halted. After last week’s Board of Selectmen’s
meeting, we had approval only for Phase I of the clean-up. The BOS has requested more specific
information from us and would like to hear from the experts with whom we are working before
discussing Phase II and III. We are preparing for that meeting, which will take place on
Wednesday, February 19th, at 5:00 p.m. at Town Hall. The Board of Education does not have
money of its own. We have the money allotted to us through the budget last May. It would be
gravely irresponsible to have continued to work on Peck with no means of paying for the work,
so the work was halted on Thursday, February 13.

3. Incidentally, the Phase I remediation did achieve a clean air sample at the end of the abatement.

4. Through several different venues last week, the Board of Education was requested to develop a
‘contingency plan’ should the Town decide not to go forward with the remediation of Peck.
People quickly began circulating ideas of tearing Peck down and building one new school for all.
Additional ideas gained a foothold. The idea of a new, town-wide school is not a surprise to
anyone. People have interjected ‘the new school’ idea frequently in conversation. But,
suspending the work on Peck in order to build a new school sometime down the road is a
shocking surprise. A new school would take 5 – 6 years of town meetings, committee work,
design work, and ultimately construction.

5. Even more surprising is the idea that, rather than repairing the damage at Peck and returning to
the school, Peck students and staff could be housed somewhere else for 5 – 6 years while the
new school is being built.

6. Incidentally, the price tags in the millions which compare the price of repairing Peck to the cost
of constructing a new school are speculation, not factual.

7. Oddly, (since most families have actually had a child at MLT recently), the idea of housing Peck
Place at MLT gained a lot of ground.

a. Peck has 22 regular education classrooms in Grades 1 – 6. In addition, to support an
effective program, Peck has a library, computer lab, several Special Education rooms, an
art room, a music room, and additional spaces for OT/PT, Speech, Guidance, and
tutoring. There are 372 Peck students.

b. MLT has 12 classrooms: 7 Kindergarten classrooms; 1 Special Education classroom, and 2 Pre-K classrooms. There is an art room and one classroom being used as the Library/Reading/Tutoring room.

c. Using MLT to house Peck suggests we move the entire kindergarten and pre-school program of 9 classrooms (including the Peck kindergarteners) to Race Brook (5  classrooms) and Turkey Hill (4 classrooms). It’s hard to see where those extra classroom spaces exist at Turkey Hill and Race Brook without eliminating their classroom spaces for art, music, Spanish, tutoring, and the computer labs.

d. If we did move Kindergarten and pre-K out of MLT, we would now have 12 classrooms
available for the 22 regular education classrooms. If we partitioned the upstairs BOE
meeting room into 2 classrooms, we’re up to 14. My office (I’m being serious, not
sarcastic) is nearly classroom-sized and would get us to 15. MLT would still be 7 regular
classrooms short and that does not include the children’s needs for a library, computer
room, or Special Ed.

e. Many people have mentioned bringing in portables to MLT, as if it were as easy as a
phone call. Portables are expensive and need to be ordered about a year in advance.
They are expensive to install and need a poured concrete foundation, septic, electric,
and water. They are expensive to remove, as well. If they are ‘well-used’ at the end of
their stint, no one wants them back. Lining the field at MLT with portables is extremely
hard to envision and impossible to support.

8. So, charged with the responsibility of developing a contingency plan, I did that in the most
educationally sound, sensible way possible. I don’t have a full appreciation of the intention or
purpose of this contingency plan. Is the plan supposed to house Peck until a new school is built
in 5 – 6 years? Or, is the plan supposed to house Peck if we don’t make the August move-in
date? If it is the latter, this is frustrating; remediating Peck in time for opening IS achievable and
should be everyone’s primary goal. The contingency plan does include grade reconfiguration
rather than redistricting (please see the need to move one full grade in c. below) for these

a. The make-shift arrangement we used in January, with the Peck students divided in half,
was a stop-gap measure and never intended to be anything other than temporary. We
could not replicate that plan without overcrowding the classrooms again. We certainly
couldn’t repeat it for years.

b. Many other options have been considered (phone calls, visits, etc.) and ruled out. I’ll
provide at least one brief negative for each, but please know there are many negatives.

i. Renting empty retail space (negatives: bus drop-offs and pick-ups; need for extensive dividers, wall covering, and lighting for industrial-looking space; Internet meeting occupancy codes for children; playground)

ii. Empty schools in Milford, New Haven West Haven, including parochial (negatives: some have been repurposed by the town; some have been stripped;  some were not up to code; need for renovation)

iii. High Plains (4 available classrooms, occupancy, condition)

iv. Hubble (drop-offs and pick-ups; narrow entrance road, basement spaces, need of renovation; occupancy for children)

c. Thus, we needed a plan that incorporated our existing buildings. To do this, the plan required moving one whole grade into MLT to lighten the student load on Turkey Hill and Race Brook. We also needed a plan for the remaining grades that yielded a number of student sections that actually ‘fit’ into the real number of classrooms we have available to us in Turkey Hill and Race Brook

9. The class size discussion is a moot point IF Peck is not remediated and brought back into the
mix. If Peck is to be closed, and if four schools are to be housed in three schools, this town
simply does not have the number of classrooms it needs even to simply maintain the programs
and class sizes that currently exist.

10. The extended-day Kindergarten pilot is a moot point if the kindergarten and pre-K are to be
reshuffled, or if Grade 1 is to be moved to MLT.

Finally, regarding the Budget Workshop, the Board of Education and I are proceeding with a 2014 –
2015 budget as if Peck were to be remediated and online for the opening of school

Hope this helps you to sort out the information as it stands today.

Lynn K. McMullin
Superintendent of Schools

Abandon Peck Place? Move Kindergarteners? One Orange School? What Did Jim Zeoli Say to The Orange BOE?

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Feb 172014

First Selectman Jim Zeoli speaks before the Orange Board of Education on Feb. 10.

First Selectman Jim Zeoli speaks before the Orange Board of Education on Feb. 10.

At last Monday’s Orange Board Of Education meeting (available for viewing on OGAT’s Video On Demand) First Selectman Jim Zeoli spoke during the public participation section regarding proposed expenditures for Peck Place School.

The subject came up again at Wednesday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting and by Friday what he had said went around town like a game of telephone — so what ARE his thoughts?

Zeoli responded in a public forum on Friday afternoon with the hope of clearing things up.

He wrote:

There are way too many rumors and speculation out there about Peck Place School today. I appeared at the Board of Education meeting on Monday the 10th and spoke during Public Participation.

I had told the Chairman that I would be at that meeting. I encouraged the Board to look at the dollar costs for putting Peck back in shape and that are there any other options.

I suggested that as part of considering a full day Kinder program they see if it is possible to move these classes back to each home school of the respective district and the K’s could be with big brothers and sisters as it was prior to the refitting and reuse of MLT.

I then asked that they look at MLT for the Peck district school if it could be used that way. I then suggested if all that was possible they then would walk away from Peck and at the same time consider using the bond and operation money slated for Peck to be used at TH, RB, and MLT.

Then the charge would be to consider a new school for all elementary or just refurb what we have. These were all possibilities that the OBOE could look at. I do not have a say in what ultimately happens anymore than you, the OBOE elected members do on your behalf.

The most recent rumor I heard today is that I am forcing the schools to split the grade levels and putting two grades at each school. Never will I support this.

The Board of Selectmen met on Wednesday at our regular meeting, one item on the agenda was the contracts with AIG dealing with asbestos. Phase 1 was approved to be paid, this was the areas that were water damaged and asbestos abatement is not a covered expense.

Phase’s 2 and 3 the Selectmen had questions that answers were not readily available in the material provided for work in area’s other than the water damaged zones.

A meeting is being held with the Oboe’s staff and experts for the work required in these area’s. This meeting has nothing to do with school or staff planning or staff reductions as I heard today. 

Orange Live will keep you posted on any updates concerning the ongoing Peck Place School situation.

Peck Place Parents and Students Check Out The New School Space at Yale

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Jan 292014

The front entrance to the new Yale-Peck Place school.

The front entrance to the new Yale-Peck Place school.

The parking lot of the Yale West Campus saw more full parking spaces on Tuesday night than since it was home to the Showcase Cinemas decades ago.

Parents and students from the Peck Place community flocked to the site to get their first glimpse of the new Peck Place School digs in a corner section of the vast college campus.

Supt. Lynn McMullin and just about everyone from the Orange Board of Education were on hand for the open house, including Principal/Director of Curriculum & Instruction at Mary L. Tracy, Colleen Murray, who greeted and hugged the children just as she did when she was principal of Turkey Hill School.

Peck Place Principal Eric Carbone stopped to talk to as many of the 375 children and their parents as he could. One boy who hadn’t seen him in a while asked why he had a beard.

“I’ll shave it again soon,” he assured the child.

Of his school’s new temporary home, Carbone said, “We love it. It’s outstanding. It was a total team effort from everybody in Orange to everybody at Yale to make this happen. The kids are ecstatic , they want to see it, explore their new spaces, and tomorrow will definitely be a great day.”

First Grade teacher Pattie Moffet greeted her students and graciously accepted a large box of hand wipes from a parent. She spoke to selectman Mitch Goldblatt and explained how wonderful everyone was in getting the space set up for the kids.

Another teacher told parents that one difference between Peck and the Yale Campus was that there are no water fountains, so children will have to bring bottled water that can be refilled in the sink, but she was delighted that the movers brought her tissue boxes over from her old classroom.

She hugged students that she hadn’t seen in a while and told them that they would all be together again tomorrow.

Parents seemed to be very impressed and pleased with the look and layout of the space. “Our kids will be begging to go to school now,” one dad told an administrator.

Rebecca Brandriff, Director of Finance and Administration for the Yale-West Campus has been especially busy this month.

Her job was to get all the necessary approvals from the University to move Peck Place to the West Campus and helping Carbone facilitate the move from one school to another.

“Eric has been wonderful,” she said of Carbone and her experiences working with him in this crisis.

As far as the school busses dropping off and picking up and having everything run smoothly Brandriff said, “We have a map, we have a plan and all of our staff is aware of what is happening — we’re looking forward to the first day.

She said the campus has beautiful hiking trails that teachers and students can use and nature often comes to the building which will thrill the children. “We have lots of deer that walk around here and the kids will be able to see them up close as they eat their lunch in the cafeteria,” she said. “I know they’ll love it.”

One special event awaits the sixth graders in June. Brandriff said Yale West will host their graduation ceremony in the campus auditorium. They will be able to say that they graduated “at” Yale — not “from” Yale — but pretty darn close.

A parent named John said his son will miss his new friends at Race Brook School, but it will be nice to get back to some sort of normalcy with his old classmates.

The Peck Place Students are expected to arrive at the Yale West Campus Wednesday morning shortly after 8 a.m. to the bright lights and big cameras of the local news media. (Update: The snow caused a 2 hour delay this morning)

We wish everyone luck and happiness in your new “temporary” home.





12 Orange Students Receive CAPSS Award

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Jun 302012

12 Orange students received the CAPSS award

Published 11:59 pm June 29

Orange Supt. Lynn McMullin, presented twelve students with the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents’ (CAPSS) Superintendent/Student Recognition Award at the May 14 Board of Education meeting.

School administrators recognized students who have served their schools and communities while maintaining good scholastic progress.

The students are: Alexandra Ashworth, Shayna Goldblatt, Emily Kilian and Patrick Winkel from Peck Place School; Amelia Bailey-Schetlin, Ryan Ford, Courtney Greifenberger and Hannah Rappaport from Race Brook School; and Anne Marie Allen, Carsan Dziczkowski, Emilia Steinbrick and Grace Vocalina from Turkey Hill School

Criteria for the award include leadership, service to school, academic prowess relative to ability, and service to others in the community.

Orange Live congratulates all of these fine boys and girls on this well-deserved recognition.