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State Senator

Norm Needleman

Representing Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Senator Needleman Praises Governor Lamont’s Support of Collaboration, Shared Services in Education

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) praised Governor Ned Lamont after his announcement of an amended proposal promoting shared services between schools and school districts in Connecticut. This latest proposal removes any language that would mandate school regionalization, instead emphasizing that schools should be encouraged to work together on their own terms. The Governor’s announcement comes just one day after Sen. Needleman and a number of district and state leaders advocated for legislation promoting shared services without forcing schools to take action.

The Governor’s office announced its new proposal Wednesday, responding to concerns raised by Connecticut communities and incorporating ideas initially proposed by Sen. Needleman. According to the Governor’s office, the new language encourages collaboration and sharing of services between schools and towns and does not require any regional efforts. Gov. Lamont said the new legislation uses school construction bonds, among other funds, to incentivize cost savings, but it does not force regionalization. Revised language would create a bipartisan commission on shared services including appointees from six different regions of the state. It says any recommendations made by that commission would not be binding and does away with any forced redistricting or regionalization.

“The truth is that our students and teachers are not getting the adequate resources they need in the classroom,” Gov. Lamont said. “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. I’ve also heard the concern that school districts need independence to make the decisions they feel are best. 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.”

Sen. Needleman introduced language focusing on collaboration over mandates this year. He credited the Governor’s administration for having an open mind and considering concerns with the initial proposal, as well as its willingness to adjust legislation to reflect public wishes.

“Gov. Lamont’s new proposal integrates concepts that I have supported for months, and that I’ve known for years can provide towns with the freedom and security they need,” said Sen. Needleman. “I am very encouraged to see him adjust this proposed legislation to emphasize the importance of collaboration in shared services. School districts know their students’ needs, and how best to meet those needs, and no two schools are alike. By recognizing that, and moving away from one-size-fits-all legislation, the Governor is telling municipalities he’s confident they know what’s best for their students.”

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