Lamont softens stance on consolidating school districts

March 20, 2019

HARTFORD — Following fierce backlash, Gov. Ned Lamont has softened his stance on consolidating school districts and administration, releasing a new legislative proposal Wednesday that strikes any mention of redistricting.

The revised bill would create a Commission on Shared School Services that “shall develop recommendations,” not a plan. Those recommendations will cover how school districts can find “additional collaborations” by sharing services — like software or transportation contracts — and staff —like superintendents — between them, instead of consolidating entire school districts.

“The truth is that our students and teachers are not getting the adequate resources they need in the classroom,” Lamont said in a written statement. “Sharing certain back-office administrative services and purchasing costs is more efficient for certain schools, and my bill is intended to highlight and incentivize those efficiencies.”

Earlier this month, hundreds of small-town residents voiced their opposition to any commission-ordered redistricting at the Capitol. In February, Lamont held a closed door meeting with dozens of concerned Fairfield County municipal leaders and pledged that his proposal was “a carrot, not a stick” to encourage regionalization.

“I’ve also heard the concern that school districts need independence to make the decisions they feel are best,” Lamont said Wednesday. “My revised proposal seeks to strike that balance through a collaborative process that preserves the feisty independence of our towns while providing them the tools they need to accomplish our shared vision of focusing resources on the classroom.”

The legislature’s Education Committee is now considering the governor’s new proposal.

emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson