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School regionalization to be heard by Connecticut lawmakers Friday

HARTFORD -- The future of Connecticut schools will be the big topic at the State Capitol on Friday.

Lawmakers are taking a look at the idea of consolidating school districts.

Hundreds of people have written letters to the Capitol saying they do not want this to happen. Lawmakers are looking to create a special commission that would consolidate smaller school districts. Proponents said it is to benefit students in the long run, but some families feel like this is being forced on them.

A concerned father of three children in South Windsor was one of many to write a letter.

In it, he stated "It should be on the schools to justify why they wish to voluntarily merge.”

Art Adduci said he moved to South Windsor in the first place because of the good schools.

“I think it’d have an impact on how my students are going to grow up in the town,” said Adduci of South Windsor.

Now, he said he is scared his children’s future will be affected even with him being on the Board of Education.

“To have the state come out and say no, these districts are required to merge is for me entirely unfair, unreasonable and not the best way to go about to creating a more efficient and effective school system,” added Adduci.

However, State Senate President Martin Looney said it is voluntary.

“No, obviously one of the options would be if districts declined to participate, the penalty would be a financial one. Obviously if they declined to participate, the state can withhold certain grants,” said Looney.

Looney said the fear of schools closing and requiring more busing are all coming from alarmists. Instead, he said these bills will focus on more resources for the classrooms to benefit students.

“What it’s targeted to do is reduce education bureaucracy – to reduce the number of superintendents in central office bureaucrats in the state and to have consolidation that would save at the administrative level and not at the school building level,” added Looney.

During Governor Ned Lamont’s budget address last week, he said this proposal is aimed at investing in the future of Connecticut’s children.

“And while we’re holding the line on operating costs and bonding, larger schools and districts which pool resources, sharing superintendents and back-office functions, will receive priority for new bonding. Let’s incentivize smart choices and strategic decisions,” said Governor Lamont.

The public hearing will take place Friday at 1 p.m.

It will simply be an informational gathering process with the testimonies taken into account. From there, the committee will deliberate and consider putting a bill on the agenda for a vote.

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