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School regionalization concepts raised in Conn. General Assembly draw concerns

They're just concepts at this point, but two ideas being floated in the Connecticut legislature have raised eyebrows in the Greater Danbury area.  Both would regionalize school districts.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky opposes the idea of requiring towns with less than 40,000 residents to combine.  He says district input and voluntary measures would be better, if this is the path forward.  He says school districts should not be forced to regionalize.

Only 24 of 169 municipalities in Connecticut have a population over the threshold.  Opponents argues there could be less time in the classroom and more time on the bus, especially in rural areas where proposed districts would be very large geographically.  They're also concerned that this could lead to dramatic increases in busing expenses.

Another bill has been submitted requiring any school district with a student population of fewer than 2,000 to join a new or an existing regional school district.  The Connecticut Council of Small Towns opposes forced consolidation noting that it would not result in significant cost savings and could result in a decrease in quality of education.

Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle says she ordinarily wouldn't question a concept, but this one has caused a level of distress she hasn't seen in her years as a state lawmaker.  She's concerned with not the reality of, but with the appearance of the concept.  Although ambiguous on many counts, she says it does talk of forced regionalization.

Wilton Senator Will Haskell opposes the proposals, which would require consolidation with Norwalk.  He says finding efficiencies in state spending is a priority, but doesn't believe this is an appropriate move. 

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Todd Schnitt

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