FIRST UP on GMW: Friday, Feb. 15: The Hartford Edition

This column will run frequently each week, highlighting shorter announcements or updates, and help you get a quick start to the Wilton news of the day. Have a news tip, item or something you know people are chattering about? Email us at editor@goodmorningwilton.com.

Hands Off Our Schools Grows and Grows

There’s been lots of growth over this past week for the Wilton-started, now-statewide group Hands Off Our Schools, which formed to oppose legislation on mandatory school regionalization. The group now numbers more than 2,400 people on Facebook, and has attracted new members from all over Connecticut, including Stratford, Southbury, Berlin, Rocky Hill, Torrington and elsewhere.

The group has branched out to Twitter, starting an account that Twitter users can now follow for news about opposition efforts and updates from the capital.

Governor Hints at His Position on School Regionalization

Gov. Ned Lamont has not stated publicly where he stands on the issue of school consolidation; however, he seems to be hinting about his feelings on the topic.

Earlier this week, Wilton’s Democratic Town Committee chair Tom Dubin attended a meeting the governor held with many DTC chairs from around the state. Dubin reports that while Lamont didn’t say definitively whether he supports or opposes the legislation, he indicated he wouldn’t be in favor of anything mandatory, and he’s aware of the concerns many CT residents have. Both he and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said that they’d prefer incentives for voluntary consolidation and back-office shared services, according to Dubin, who said the phrase they used was, “looking to create carrots, not sticks.”

Dubin also reports that the governor referred to the idea of school consolidation along probate district lines as something that was never serious, and that he believed it was used in the legislation only as an example of regionalization, and not the model to be followed. The governors’ words were, “Probate is not relevant…” with regard to school regionalization.

That confirmation follows on the heels of reports out of New Canaan following a sit-down the governor had with officials there–a meeting we wrote about here. A NewCanaanite.com story reports that the town’s first selectman Kevin Moynihan told a Board of Selectmen’s meeting that Lamont does not support legislation proposing mandatory consolidation of school districts.

Education Committee Hearing Update

State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) posted an update on what to do for any public hearing the Education Committee will hold on school regionalization bills. Lavielle is a member of the committee. Her info:

  • The Public Hearing date is still TBD.
  • When the date is set, Lavielle will post info on the Hands Off Our School Facebook page about how sign-ups for speaking at the hearing will work.
  • The most effective way to make an impression on the Committee is to go to Hartford to testify in person. “Having large numbers of people there is very important,” she says.
  • If young people/students, want to testify, the Committee always makes an effort to hear them early in the day so that they do not have to stay late. Hearings on controversial subjects often run into the early hours of the morning.
  • Even after testifying in person, written testimony should also be submitted to the committee by the day before the hearing.
  • All testimony can be submitted in writing by email. Include the bill number(s) in the Subject Line of the email and in the title of the text. Testimony can be sent as an attachment or just in the body of the email, whichever is preferred.
  • Anyone unable to attend the hearing in person can still submit written testimony by email. “In-person testimony is the most effective, but, understandably, not everyone will be able to come to Hartford.”
  • Any letters already sent to Education Committee members and others can still be submitted as formal testimony. That can be done as early as now.

Bill to Outlaw Turf Fields in CT Introduced

Today, Friday, Feb. 15, the Environment Committee is having a hearing on HB5249An Act Prohibiting the Purchase or Use of Artificial Turf by the State and Municipalities.

The bill was proposed and referred to the Environment Committee, which voted to draft its own version to be considered.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice is concerned about this measure and posted about it on Facebook, saying, “Wilton has been environmentally responsible and safety focused by recently replacing our crumb rubber fields with coconut husk infill turf with concussion padding. The town should not be financially penalized and our athletes penalized by this bill.”

Written testimony can be emailed to the committee.

Two of Wilton’s legislators serve on the Environment  Committee and can be contacted by email:  State Sen. Will Haskell and State. Rep. Tom O’Dea are on this committee. Vanderslice suggests contacting both Haskell and O’Dea as well as the other members of the committee. Visit the CGA webpage for the Environment Committee for links to the committee’s email addresses and the bill.