Posted on February 8, 2019 by admin
This week the Education Committee raised two bills proposing to force towns to regionalize their school districts. While encouraging towns to share services is a laudable goal, these bills start the discussion in the wrong place. Forcing towns to regionalize their school districts based upon town, not student, population without considering a community’s unique needs, creates a whole host of potential problems. One of these bills would even force consolidations based upon probate districts as a default. I struggle to see the correlation.
Consolidations based upon population makes no sense because there is no correlation between the size of a town and student population. Take our surrounding towns. In 2016-17, Branford with a population of 28,000 had 2964 students (11%); Guilford with a population of 22,000 had 3387 students (15%); and North Branford with a population of 14,000 had 1831 students (13%). Demographics, not population, play a large factor in regionalizing a school district. North Branford for instance has a major transportation barrier with Lake Gaillard, which is probably, in part, why the north side of town went to North Haven and the southern half of town went to East Haven and Branford prior to the construction of our high school. For more rural communities, bus routes could easily exceed an hour just to reach some arbitrary threshold number forcing consolidation.
The bills make a fatal mistake of assuming that regionalization will provide money savings.
Current state laws, however, don’t necessarily foster efficiency when towns regionalize, and at times regionalized districts are at a disadvantage. Larger towns can control spending at the expense of the smaller regionalized towns, or proportionately, one town may bear a greater cost than its grand list could otherwise handle, thus resulting in tax increases for the weaker community. When Governor Malloy proposed midyear cuts to education, towns like North Branford had the ability to work with their board of educations to find savings and reduce the budget if needed. In a regional district, like District 13, Durham had no legal ability to work with their board to find savings. Rather, a midyear cut, would require a tax increase. Furthermore, in some districts which only have regionalized high schools, the districts are required to have separate boards of educations so multiple governing bodies oversee various levels of education, thus adding to the cost.
The state needs to put a greater effort into modernizing our current state laws for regionalization before attempting to force towns to swallow this massive pill. I believe these proposals are a reckless attempt to take more money away from our towns for state consumption. It should not be lost on anyone that the cities represented by the introducer of the bill are not impacted by the proposal. If we genuinely want to improve educational opportunities for students, we should start the conversation on shared classroom experiences and demographic studies on where these pairing might be successful, rather than taking a wrecking ball to our well-established educational districts. Our students deserve better.
Posted on February 6, 2019 by admin
Connecticut Democrats have proposed multiple bills to force towns to regionalize school districts.
One bill would force any school district with less than 2,000 students to regionalize (impacting an estimated 84 towns). Another bill would force any town with a population of less than 40,000 to consolidate with other towns to form new school districts matching the state probate court districts shown below (impacting an estimated 144 towns).
While encouraging towns to share services is a laudable goal, these bills start the discussion wrong. Forcing towns and cities to regionalize their school districts based upon town, not student or population, and without considering their unique needs creates a whole host of potential problems:
Less time in the classroom and more time on the bus, especially in rural areas where proposed districts would be very large geographically.
Wasted taxpayer investments in new and newly renovated schools. If your town just invested in a new school renovation, it may now be all for nothing if the school no longer fits the needs of a regional school district.
Potential new costs to build new schools to meet regional needs.
Dramatic increases in busing expenses for towns and cities. While the state used to pay for busing costs, towns and cities are now solely responsible for those costs.
Raises concerns about how to preserve quality of education.
Loss of teaching positions. If towns are forced to consolidate, this could impact number of teachers and classrooms sizes.
Loss of local control over school decision making. Forcing regionalization leaves little room for towns, cities and local residents to have a say in what happens.
Any bill that the legislature considers, must recognize all of these important factors that impact the quality of education for our students. Sadly, neither of these bills provide that opportunity.
Want to speak out about this proposal? I will let you know once a public hearing is scheduled so you can submit testimony or testify in person at the State Capitol.
To talk to the lawmakers who proposed these bills, contact Senate Democrats at 800-842-1420 and House Democrats at 800- 842-8267.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me at 1-800-842-1423 or Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov if you have any questions relating to state government.
Posted on February 4, 2019 by admin
On Friday, February 1, Deputy Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-86) Hosted Boy Scouts Day at the Capitol in Hartford with State Representative Pat Boyd (D-50).
Scouts from all five of the Boy Scout councils visited the Capitol for a tour at 1 p.m. followed by an inaugural ceremony at 3:15 p.m. followed by a 2019 Report to the State and Meet and Greet.
Nearly 150 Scouts, their leaders, parents, along with state and local officials from all over Connecticut were in attendance to celebrate girls becoming members of the new Boy Scouts program.
Boy Scout Day at the Capitol celebrated the new Co-Educational Scouting program in Connecticut that welcomed its first girls into the Boy Scouts program. The girls at this unique Court of Honor Ceremony also received their Scout badge.