Gov. Ned Lamont met on Tuesday with several Fairfield County first selectmen and school superintendents to discuss his proposal to share or consolidate local school services and districts.
At issue is Senate Bill 874, “An Act Concerning Education Initiatives and Services in Connecticut.” Introduced by Lamont, the bill seeks the appointment of a Commission of Shared School Services, which would develop a plan for the redistricting or consolidation of certain school services and school districts by December 2020.
Currently pending in the state Education Committee, the bill is scheduled to be the subject of a public hearing on March 1 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
At the meeting, hosted at Weston Town Hall by First Selectman Chris Spaulding and arranged by state Sen. Will Haskell of Westport, Lamont insisted that the legislation is not designed to force municipalities’ hands, but is instead meant to encourage collaboration.
“It’s my feeling that on sensitive, localized issues like our schools, it’s important to lead with the carrot and not force peoples’ hands,” the governor said. “There have been discussions for years about more shared services, cooperating agreements, and consolidations of schools and districts. Let’s talk about the efficiencies we can produce and determine the best way to get there, including incentives for strategic decisions.
“This is an issue that has strong feelings on all sides,” Lamont continued, “but we have to remember that at the end of the day, it’s about ensuring that our kids get the best education and that we don’t burden our cities and towns by subsidizing inefficiencies.”
Others in attendance included First Selectman Jayme Stevenson of Darien, Mike Tetreau of Fairfield, Ken Kellogg of Monroe and Vicki Tesoro of Trumbull, along with representatives from Easton, New Canaan, Redding and Wilton.