HARTFORD — The legislature’s Conservative Caucus today reacted with concern after learning a legislative proposal to mandate the creation of regional school districts was recently unveiled.
Proposed Bill 454 would create a legislative commission to develop a plan to regionalize school districts based on population, in alignment with Connecticut’s Probate Court system. Under this law, the current system of approximately 150 school districts would be reduced to 54, merging both rural and urban communities, and would become effective by default even without action by the commission or approval of the legislature.
“The idea that the state would force local school districts into large regional districts regardless of how the residents, students, teachers and administrators feel is astonishing,” Rep. Kurt Vail said. “This plan is unworkable and patently unfair to the idea of local control. The fact that this plan would be implemented even without the legislature’s ratification is unconscionable.”
“Unilaterally intrusive proposals like this that force control and remove the authority from local elected officials is the wrong direction for the state and one I stand firmly against.” Rep. John Fusco said. “If local districts want to combine then that decision should be made at the local level by the Board of Education, town administration and the voters who reside there.”
Despite strong reservations about the proposal as presented, the Conservative Caucus does consider voluntary regionalization for certain purchasing and services to be a viable option to save money.
“Regionalization itself is not the problem. Municipalities should be encouraged to engage in voluntary regional agreements when they make sense for their students and taxpayers,” Rep. Doug Dubitsky said. “If neighboring districts want to share services, equipment or resources, then the state should stand aside and allow districts to realize those savings. However, it’s a mistake to force towns into potentially untenable alliances, especially when the plan is based on a judicial map that has nothing to do with academics.”
The Connecticut General Assembly Conservative Caucus is a group of legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual liberty. Its members, Rep. Mike France, Chair (R-42); Rep. Craig Fishbein, Vice Chair (R-90); Rep. Anne Dauphinais, Secretary (R-44); Rep. David T. Wilson, Treasurer (R-66); Senator Rob Sampson (R-16); Rep. Tim Ackert (R-8); Rep. Doug Dubitsky (R-47); Rep. Rick Hayes (R‑51); Rep. Kurt Vail (R-52); Rep. John Piscopo (R-76); Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R-80); Rep. John Fusco (R-81); and Rep. Vincent Candelora (R-86), foster open debate about the role of government in society, adherence to the Constitution, and the rule of law. They propose and advocate for legislation that promotes the freedoms, individual rights and prosperity of all Americans.