BOE discusses therapy and a new school calendar


School psychologists Valerie Babich and Alycia Dadd explain the benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to Board of Education (BOE) on March 16.

On March 16, the Board of Education (BOE) met in the Staples cafeteria to discuss Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and finalize the uniform school calendar for 2016-2017.

Valerie Babich and Alycia Dadd, school psychologists, presented the board with a PowerPoint explaining the benefits of DBT.

DBT is a synthesis of behaviorism, mindfulness and dialectics. This is “an effective treatment for people who have difficulty coping with their emotions and behaviors,” Babich and Dadd explained in their powerpoint.

This form of therapy is currently happening in only eight other school districts across the country.

Currently, Staples High School is the only school in Westport that has introduced this form of therapy. Nurses, guidance counselors, school psychologists and other staff members have already gone through a three day training program to learn how to effectively use DBT in a school setting.

“We probably have the highest standards for our guidance staff. Tonight was evidence of that,” Elliott Landon, Superintendent of Westport Schools, said.

After the DBT presentation, the BOE discussed the uniform student and faculty calendar for the 2016-2017 school year.

It was recently required that the BOE adopt a calendar that is modeled by the Regional Educational Service Center, Cooperative Educational Services. Some of the components of the new calendar include having at least 180 school days, a uniform start date, uniform days for professional development or training and only three uniform school vacations. These breaks will be in Dec., April and summer.

The newly proposed calendar has a uniform start date of Sept. 1, no Feb. break and June 14 as the last day of school.

The reason behind these changes is to decrease transportation costs, Elaine Whitney, BOE secretary, said.

“[There is] very little wiggle room. [The] bottom line is [that] we have five days of flexibility,” Whitney said.

Whitney proposed to create a five day weekend in Feb. so that staff and students still have a break. This would push the final day of school to June 15.

This formal motion passed five to one.

All were in favor of the newly adopted calendar.