Here’s the latest on what’s new, and some helpful links to information and news about the recent proposal to regionalize school districts in Connecticut.

Official Name Change

Protect Wilton Schools, the grass-roots group that began organizing in Wilton to oppose compulsory school consolidation in CT, has officially changed its name. Organizers have officially changed the name to “Hands Off Our Schools.” The name change reflects the group’s position that the proposed legislation to regionalize schools impacts towns across the state, not just Wilton, says Bill Lalor, who has become the de facto leader of the group.

Making (Radio) Waves

In order to connect with other communities and help publicize the efforts to oppose regionalization laws outside of Wilton, Lalor will be participating in a panel discussion on WSHU Public Radio on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m.. Other panelists who will take part are Rep. Themis Klarides, Republican leader of the CT State House of Representatives; Dr. Christopher Clouet, Shelton Schools superintendent; Elizabeth Gara, executive director of Connecticut Council of Small Towns; and Sen. Alex Bergstein, newly elected Democrat representing the 36th District.

The panel discussion will be part of the WSHU show, “The Full Story,” is a one-hour talk show on the current issues impacting the local community. It’s hosted by veteran journalist Ron Ropiak, and, according to the WSHU website, “…explores the news that is important in our region, including the economy, the opioid epidemic, the well-being of Long Island Sound, transportation, and Connecticut and New York politics. We talk with newsmakers, provide context for the issues, and invite listeners to engage in the discussion through social media.”

“The Full Story” airs live Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. on WSHU News-Talk stations:  89.9 FM, 103.3 FM, 105.7 FM, 1260 AM, and via streaming. The day’s show will air again Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on all stations, including 91.1 FM.

Volunteer Team Meetings:  “Great Work by All”

Lalor reports that the first meetings of the four volunteer teams that were formed represented a successful start to getting organized and active in the group’s effort to defeat any school consolidation legislation. The next meeting now has been rescheduled from Thursday evening to Friday at 12 p.m. at Comstock Community Center.

The goal at that next meeting will be to take the progress made Monday and generate action plans and calendars. “[It was] great work by all last night, and a mix of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated residents collaborating. It was really great to see!” Lalor says.

However, Hands Off Our Schools is in need of more volunteers.

“One emphasis is human capital,” Lalor explains. “We also need to find a way to broaden our reach. We’ll possibly do some old fashioned canvassing.”

Going forward, teams will now hold meetings twice a week–Monday’s at 7 p.m. and Fridays at noon, in order to offer options for as many people as possible. “The effort is moving forward but the trick is keeping it organized, recognizing many involved have full time jobs, kids, etc.,” Lalor adds.

The teams are:

  1. Letters and Phone Calls:  Keeping up a sustained effort to contact Hartford legislators “until we don’t need to do it anymore.”
  2. Messaging, Media & PR:  getting the message out to a broader audience (via TV/radio)
  3. Coordinating with other towns:  Show that the concern is not just Wilton’s, and not just Fairfield County’s–that no one is interested in regionalizing
  4. Facebook Administration: keeping the Facebook page and calendar current

The Facebook group page continues to be the central communication point for all information coming from the group. There are now 1,275 members in the group.