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Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff Supports Continued Dialogue on School District Consolidation

Legislators Must Pursue Opportunities to Encourage Efficiencies

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) today called for a continued effort this session to encourage small districts of 2,000 students or less to find ways to consolidate some functions, to the benefit of students and taxpayers, while still preserving local control.

Earlier today, Senator Duff submitted testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly Education Committee regarding regionalization bills currently receiving a public hearing. One of those bills, Senate Bill 457, is sponsored by Senator Duff. It would require small districts to look at consolidating and, if they determine it to be unfeasible or unnecessary, to justify that reason to the State Department of Education in writing.

 “I want to be very clear, we’re not closing or consolidating schools, busing children long distances and we’re not removing local control,” said Senator Duff. “What we are trying to do is find ways to improve students’ access to comprehensive programming, to more electives in art and music, and to increase extracurricular offerings. We’re also facing a significant budget deficit this year, and though we’re not going to solve it through any single policy prescription, it’s our responsibility as legislators to pursue opportunities to encourage efficiencies. Starting this discussion, and continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on a solution based on facts, numbers and necessity, is something I will continue to strive for. Those saying only ‘no’ will not move the state forward.”

Additional bills being heard by the Education Committee include one proposed by Governor Lamont which would establish a Commission on Shared School Services for the purpose of planning for school district cooperation, address capping of school construction resources and call for sharing of Superintendents for small districts, and another bill sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, which would develop a commission to plan for requiring towns with populations under 40,000 people to join regional school districts.

Earlier this week, Senator Duff co-authored an op-ed with his Senate colleague Cathy Osten urging the state to “make hard choices” when it comes to guaranteeing all students access to high-quality opportunities and excellence. In the op-ed, senators Duff and Osten explain that consolidating functions in school districts serving fewer than 2,000 students is one pragmatic solution to realizing this goal. The full opinion piece can be read here.

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