The following statement was sent to Hartford by Darien's Board of Education in reference to three proposed bills:

We, the Darien Board of Education, write you in opposition of bills 738, 457 and 458. We hope you will consider our comments and recognize that as locally elected state agents we are your "boots on the ground" who grapple with the impact of educational policy on local communities, and most importantly with the direct effect on students.

We understand that you are charged with reviewing all proposals, but we would implore you to please reach out to local communities to best understand what these bills would mean to Connecticut.

Regionalization - (SB-738 & SB-457)

The Darien Board of Education is now, and will remain committed to the quality public education of our children, with a locally elected Board of Education acting as state agent.

There are many significant factors within the state that need to be considered as we move to improve Connecticut's fiscal situation, but to begin that process by dismantling school systems, including those districts who have worked hard to manage budgets, have seen significant and sustained funding cuts -and yet, still provide children with a quality education, is short sighted and ill informed.

Of significant concern, we believe schools exist for children and neither bill begins to address the educational issues and direct impact to students that might arise with such consolidations.

Further, while the goal behind each bill is reportedly cost savings, no evidence has been provided to consider those claims. We feel it unwise to mandate regionalization when the stated goals have yet to be clearly investigated and provided for understanding and consideration.

Appointment of the Board Chair by Town Official (SB-458)

We believe this proposal lacks an inherent understanding of the checks and balances of institutions, and why the fundamentals of our government are set up the way they are.

The public school system was set up with a very specific balance such to provide students with an appropriate education while assuring that the necessary funding is provided.

Board members represent the taxpayers and they are by their elections held accountable.

However, they are empowered by the state to act as state agents in implementing the educational interests of the state so that public schools are not inherently subject to changing community tides, or other political motives, when it comes to providing and funding an adequate education for children.

Lastly, it is the superintendent of schools who in Connecticut is designated CEO of the school system. To imply in some way, through this bill, that the highest elected town official of the municipality is also the CEO of the school system goes against the very grain of our commitment to education in Connecticut.

We ask you to oppose these bills based on your belief in the Connecticut public schools system and the core institutional beliefs on which it was built. When change is necessary, it should be brought through thoughtful forward thinking, and evidence­ based ideas that include the perspective of those who work on these issues daily.

Respectfully Submitted,

Tara Ochman, Chairman

Darien Board of Education