The Westport Day School, a small school for special needs children that wants to relocate from Westport to a room on the first floor of the office building at 372 Danbury Road, finally had its public hearing at the Planning and Zoning Commission’s meeting on Sept. 15. It was opened and closed, and the commission voted all-in-favor of the drafting of a resolution to approve the special permit.
This followed a number of cancellations on the side of the applicant. The original hearing was scheduled for June 22, but was continued at its request. Rescheduled for July 13, the hearing again was pulled off the agenda because the application was withdrawn.
The presentation on the 15th was given by Casey Healy, attorney with Gregory & Adams, on behalf of the applicant, but the Westport Day School’s clinical psychologist Mark Beitel did say a few things.
Commissioner Franklin Wong’s main concern was peak traffic where Danbury Road intersects with the driveway at number 372.
“At 2:15 that intersection is in terrible shape. That’s when all of the traffic from Cider Mill is coming into School Road, and buses are queued up there. It is problematic; I hope something can be done about that because there have been a number of near-accidents.”
Secretary Doris Knapp was curious to know if there was any information available that could demonstrate the feasibility of a school within a shared office space.
In response to her inquiry, Beitel said, “We went around to all of the similar schools we could find, and we ended up in a number of places — particularly in New York City — where the school was housed in an office building, and in fact, in all of the schools that we visited ... the students shared a general entrance with the rest of the tenants. We have a unique situation here where we have our own entrance.”
About the school
According to the program description, the Westport Day School addresses “academic needs ranging from remediation to giftedness.”
The student-to-teacher ratio ranges from one-to-one to six-to-one.
The school’s mission is “to provide powerful and effective therapeutic education that inspires, fascinates, and transforms children who have been beset by academic and clinical challenges such as anxiety, depression, learning disability, and/or school refusal. The mission is carried out by providing intensive, individualized, and student-interest-driven education of the highest quality.”
Head of School Dawn Matera earned her master’s degree in special education from Southern Connecticut State University and taught at Eagle Hill Southport, a school for children with learning disabilities, for nine years.