School Consolidation Wrap-up: Friday, Feb. 8, 2019

Wilton BOE Chair:  Other Districts Watching Wilton Carefully

During Thursday night’s (Feb. 7) meeting of Wilton’s Board of Education, board chair Christine Finkelstein updated the members and the public about the status of proposed state legislation to regionalize schools. Finkelstein said that word of Wilton’s work to oppose such legislation is being watched by other school districts in our District Reference Group (DRG-A).

She said she reached out to her colleagues on other districts’ boards of education, and has learned that not only are all of them highly aware of the proposed legislation, almost all of them have publicly come out in opposition.

“I was pleased to have one board chair say that her board and community are paying close attention to the events taking place in Wilton. We have really established ourselves as leaders on this issue,” Finkelstein said, reiterating that the Wilton Board of Education is committed to defeating the legislation that’s been proposed.

She also noted that she’s been in touch with Wilton’s State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143), who sits on the CT General Assembly’s Education Committee. She says Lavielle’s assessment is that the issue of regionalization will continue to be on the table and discussed in Hartford, and that it’s not going away.

“Rep. Lavielle suggests that while our letters in opposition are making a difference, we really need to keep the heat up.”

School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith noted that he plans on attending the Board of Education meeting in Trumbull, where he lives, next Tuesday, Feb. 12. “I’ll attempt to inspire them to also get in the game and share the opposition to this, because Trumbull, like every smaller community in the state, would be impacted.”

Op-Ed:  Hartford Bureaucracy Blocks Good Regional School District Cooperation

On Thursday, Feb. 7, our colleagues at ran another notable Op-Ed on the subject of Regionalized School Districts. This one, penned by Lon Seidman, the chairman of the Essex Board of Education and the Region 4 Supervision District, focuses on a different legislative proposal, SB 572An Act Encouraging Regional Cooperation Between School Districts.

He argues that Connecticut would see more voluntary sharing of services and collaboration between school districts if only the Hartford politicians would get rid of bureaucratic obstacles and unfunded mandates that prevent innovative, cooperative approaches in education.

‘Hands Off Our Schools’ Volunteer Teams will Meet Friday

The four volunteer teams formed by Wilton’s Hands Off Our Schools group will be meeting Friday, Feb. 8 at noon at Comstock Community Center. Anyone wishing to get involved is welcome to attend the meetings.

All volunteers will first meet together in Room 12 at noon, before dispersing to four different rooms:

  1. Letters and Phone Calls:  Keeping up a sustained effort to contact Hartford legislators “until we don’t need to do it anymore.” (Room 12)
  2. Messaging, Media & PR:  getting the message out to a broader audience (via TV/radio)(Room 13)
  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  (Room 14)
  4. Facebook Administration: keeping the Facebook page and calendar current (Room 15)

Haskell Schedules Two Community Conversations

State Senator Will Haskell (D-26) has scheduled two Community Conversations next week.

The first is in Weston on Monday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. at the Weston Library (56 Norfield Rd., Weston). The following day, Tuesday, Feb. 12, from 8:30-9:30 p.m., Haskell will host a second Community Conversation, this time in New Canaan and accompanied by State Representatives Tom O’Dea and Lucy Dathan. Tuesday’s meeting will take place at New Canaan Town Hall (77 Main St., New Canaan).

Education Committee Meeting Scheduled for Monday, Other Dates On Calendar

Reminder:  The Joint Legislative Education Committee will meet in Hartford on Monday, Feb. 11. Meetings are held at the Legislative Office Building (unless otherwise indicated) in Hartford (300 Capitol Ave #5100).