To further the important conversation on shared services, school district cooperation and regionalization, Education Reform Now will host a forum this Friday with respected, experienced voices from the front lines of education.
We’ll hear from newly appointed Education Committee Chairman, Hartford native, and 20 year veteran educator, Sen. Doug McCrory (Bloomfield, Hartford, Windsor). At the March 1, 2019 public hearing on district regionalization that was dominated by naysayers, Sen. McCrory called out “the elephant in the room... I think there’s a discussion we’re not having here in Connecticut. It’s a discussion we have not addressed since ‘Brown v. Board.”
Also, both Senate Pro Tempore Marty Looney (New Haven) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (Norwalk & Darien) will join us for the discussion. Each veteran legislator introduced bold, forward-looking legislation (here and here) that sparked controversy and an urgent conversation on the size and shape of school districts in the effort to save dollars and enhance student opportunity across school district lines.
And, finally the forum will engage five individuals who have rolled up their sleeves to provide greater opportunity to students while creating efficiencies.
We’ll hear from Jeff Kitching and Jonathan Costa the leaders of EdAdvance, the Regional Education Service Center (RESC) serving Litchfield Hills, on how they provide shared services, navigate local concerns, and address the challenges of a rural region with declining school enrollment. RESCs are often cited as key to shared services and regionalization efforts.
Lon Seidman, Chairman of Essex Board of Education & the Region 4 Supervision District, will join the panel discussion to share his region’s experience trying to collaborate to save dollars and time as well as the obstacles his communities have faced. Read Lon’s op-ed What prevents towns from regionalizing schools? Mountains of Red Tape. Committed to finding a way forward, Lon has collaborated with Sen. Norm Needleman who introduced compromise legislation to allow multiple boards of education in a regional school district to act together and have that collaboration be recognized by the state as a Local Education Agency (LEA).
Finally, we will hear from two unique voices on the value and potential in expanding the state’s long-standing Open Choice program. First, Dr. Maureen Brummett, Superintendent of Plainville Schools will share her district’s positive experience as an active Open Choice partner filling classrooms and offering Plainville students and out of district students a richer learning experience. And, second, Mayor Neil O’Leary of Waterbury will discuss his vision of an Open Choice expansion that includes his region of the state. With a burgeoning school-age population, the Mayor faces a challenge that no surrounding community is also facing - packed classrooms. He’ll share his thoughts on how Open Choice could be a win-win for his region.