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.
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