The new majority in Hartford is in the process of advancing several bills to force school regionalization in order to redistribute resources and remove decision-making from local schools. State Rep. Michelle Cook (D-65th) emphasized her view that such legislation should not be voluntary:
“I know that forcing people to do things is not always the right way to go, but sometimes we have to help people get there because they’re not going to get there on their own.”
One fellow supporter of forced school regionalization mocked grassroots efforts to oppose the bills:
“Over the last four days, we’ve seen people subject to great distress [laughter] over the idea of regionalizing educational services and I think that is a shame because a lot of communities have benefitted greatly by the structural inequities that are inherent in our system today.” — State Rep. Roland Lemar (D-96th), Majority Caucus Chair
One school regionalization bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Martin Looney (D-11th), indicated that his bill is the opening gambit in his larger effort to regionalize tax base “sharing.” With strong party majorities in both houses, the president pro tempore of the state Senate is well positioned to advance this effort. However, many local leaders have expressed opposition. “… It looks again that the legislature is looking to use policy as a blunt instrument in the state.” — Dr. Bryan Luizzi, New Canaan Schools Superintendent
“While New Canaan and Darien share many similarities, the reality is that New Canaan is already facing significant fiscal challenges. New Canaan carries the highest debt per capita in the state—a debt balance that is two times larger than Darien’s and carries annual debt service expenses that exceed Darien’s by almost 50 percent.