AP NEWS

Ansonia/Derby Next step in school regionalization: hire a consultant

August 29, 2018

DERBY — The Ansonia-Derby school regionalization committee is ready to hire a consultant to lead it through a process that could take up to four years.

The 10-member committee voted unanimously to have Derby schools Superintendent Matthew Conway solicit proposals from consultants.

The next step, however, has sparked debate. Some committee members want the consultant to create a regionalization plan. Others want public input before a consultant begins work.

Ronald Luneau, one of Derby’s representatives on the committee, suggested sending a survey out to taxpayers now to determine what they would like to see the committee do.

“I travel a lot between both cities,” said Luneau. “There’s a ton of opinions out there. If I know the vast majority may be against it, (regionalizing the two school systems) it would change our outlook.”

But John Izzo, his committee co-chair Jim Gildea and committee member Tara Hyder said they believe it is too early to get public input since the committee has not even begun studying the issues.

Bart Flaherty, who was among several Ansonia residents including former Town/City Clerk Beth Lynch, Alderman Frank DeLibro and Board of Education Member Chris Phipps attending the meeting, agreed with the trio.

“It’s way to early,” he said. “It’s premature to go to the public until you have something concrete.”

The committee is looking for a consultant with experience developing and performing evaluations like crafting a single school district from separate entities, has a professional staff it can commit to the work and can meet the project’s deadlines. Among the more important aspects are creating a detailed five-year educational and budget plan projection on enrollment, staffing needs, transportation and special education needs.

The consultant also would be responsible for assisting the committee in determining the pros and cons of establishing a regional school district, the grades included, the buildings used and the size and representation of a regional board of education. They also should recommend a process and procedure to negotiate union contracts as well as name the new district.

“There are probably only a handful of companies who do this type of work,” Izzo said.

The committee is working with a $168,000 state grant: $37,500 for professional/regional consolidation services based on the state mandatory limit of $10 per student; $69,500 for professional delivery of services/efficiency services; $30,000 for architectural services/facility programming, and $31,000 for administration and public involvement, which includes the costs of referendums in both cities.

The committee set a 3 p.m. Sept. 14 deadline for submissions, with plans for a special meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the cafeteria at Derby Middle School, 73 Chatfield St., to decide what questions they would ask interested consultants.

The committee will then interview best contenders at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 during its meeting at the middle school.

“I believe we will be in a position to make a decision that day,” Gildea said. “My hope is once a consultant is selected, we will be able to agree upon a contract within 14 days. That would make them available to start working at our Oct. 22 meeting at Ansonia High School.”

The final consultant report and recommendation to the committee is not the end game. It will then be up to voters in both cities to approve or deny the recommendations.

The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments will be the intermediary with the state Office Of Policy Management, will pay bills, seek reimbursement and ensure the final study is completed and the results submitted to the State Board of Education and the Ansonia and Derby town clerk’s office.

Companies interested in submitting bids should send them to Conway at the Derby Public Schools Central office, 35 Fifth St., Derby, CT 06418.

AP RADIO
Update hourly