School Consolidation Proposed
Would Eliminate Local School Districts Statewide
Bethel Would Be Combined With Newtown, Redding and Ridgefield
State Senator Martin Looney, (D) New Haven, the President pro tempore of the Connecticut Senate, has introduced a bill, S.B. 454, that proposes a massive change in how Connecticut schools are organized that would effectively strip communities like Bethel of local control over their school systems.
Under the proposal, Connecticut schools would be reorganized along the same groupings as probate court districts. This would combine Bethel's 3,100 students with Newtown, Redding and Ridgefield, creating a new consolidated school district with 13,653 students.
Local school officials have expressed concern over the new plan.
"We believe that the part of our success as a district is in the development of curriculum and programs that benefit the children in our community," wrote Bethel Superintendent of Schools Christine Carver, Ed.D. "Nonetheless, we believe you should become educated on the issue and express your opinion to your delegation."
The wording of the proposed bill:
Proposed Bill No. 454
Referred to Committee on EDUCATION
SEN. LOONEY, 11th Dist.
AN ACT CONCERNING THE CREATION OF REGIONAL SCHOOL
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General
1 That part III of chapter 164 be amended to create a commission
2 responsible for developing a plan to implement regional consolidation
3 of school districts, and that such plan shall (1) realign those school
4 districts with a total student population of fewer than forty thousand
5 students, except those regional school districts that provide instruction
6 for grades kindergarten to twelve, inclusive, in manner similar to the
7 probate districts set forth in section 45a-2 of the general statutes, and
8 require such school districts to join a regional school district, (2) when
9 a newly created regional school district affects two or more collective
10 bargaining units, (A) allow the employees of the newly consolidated
11 regional school district to be represented by a coalition of the existing
12 collective bargaining units or create a new collective bargaining unit
13 for such regional school district, and (B) require, upon expiration of
14 existing collective bargaining agreements for single-town school
15 districts that have been consolidated, any subsequent collective
16 bargaining agreement to be negotiated on a regional basis, and (3)
17 become effective state-wide for the school year commencing July 1,
18 2021, if such plan has not been approved by the General Assembly and
19 signed into law on or before July 1, 2020.
Statement of Purpose:
To create a more efficient educational system.