Editorial: What sticks

Last week, a draft bill was sent to the state Senate Education Committee that proposed a regionalization of Connecticut’s schools.

Not only was the bill extremely vague, evoking a panic at both its known and unknown prospects, it was also filed with an error that added to the confusion. Read more here:

UPDATE: Connecticut regionalization bill filed with error in language regarding population

 

The bill as originally filed proposed regionalizing school districts with a student population of under 40,000 students. Given that figure applies to every town and city in Connecticut, many of the original responses felt this was simply a vague way to just regionalize ALL districts.

Then it was made clear that figure related to total population. The mistake simply added to the game of telephone that had already been started by a vaguely worded yet extremely impactful concept — the combination of the state’s smaller schools into larger regional districts.

Most of those who invest in moving to areas of Connecticut, especially Fairfield County, move here for the schools. They take rides and research, sacrifice and save, and add much longer commutes to their work day just so their children have the best education they can provide.

Residents who don’t have children in the schools have made these towns their homes or have remained here based on the character of the town and the taxes they expect to and plan for paying.

The worst part about this bill, introduced by Senate Pro Tempore President Martin Looney, a Democrat, isn’t what it says, it is what it doesn’t say. Darien’s Democratic state representatives who responded to The Darien Times emphasized this was just an idea, and that the beginning of the legislative session includes many ideas that change or don’t go anywhere.

Fair enough, but perhaps an “idea” about regionalizing state schools should remain in thought and discussion bubbles over Hartford’s head before it is put down on paper. If it is an actual proposal, let constituents and taxpayers understand what they are dealing with before it begins working its painful way through the state government intestines.

School district regionalization isn’t something one throws at the wall to see what sticks. Because what will stick is mistrust. What will stick is fear for Darien and other smaller towns for the future of their investment and worse, for their children’s quality of education.

The subtle dropping of both this bill and a smaller one to propose regionalization of schools was the equivalent of yelling fire in a movie theater for many towns like Darien. It was unfair, uninformative and unleadership-like.

And whether you agree or disagree with regionalization of Connecticut’s schools — make calls to your state representatives. Make sure your Darien leaders are representing your interests now — before these bill “ideas” become law.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff Bob.Duff@cga.ct.gov or 800-842-1420

State Rep. Terrie Wood  Terrie.Wood@cga.ct.gov  or 800-842-1423 

Sen. Carlo Leone carlo.leone@cga.ct.gov or 860-240-0589

State Rep. Matthew Blumenthal  Matt.Blumenthal@cga.ct.gov or 860.240.8585

We get the government we deserve — so make sure your voice is heard —  before the next thing that is “stuck” is you.