Senator Needleman Supports Removal of Forced Regionalization from State Budget Proposals

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) voiced support that language mandating school regionalization is not included in the proposed 2019-2020 state budget. Sen. Needleman has advocated against any mandated changes to schools across the state, instead supporting plans that would allow for cooperative and voluntary agreements between boards of education.

“As the First Selectman of Essex, I have extensive first-hand experience working with education boards and school budgets. While there are ways we can improve our schools and find cost savings, mandated regionalization is not one of them,” Sen. Needleman said. “Our local schools and towns know how to support their students better than anyone else. They know what they need. We should be supplying them with tools to support these efforts, not making them change their current practices, and I applaud my colleagues and fellow legislators for taking education seriously.”

Since school regionalization efforts were first proposed earlier this year, Sen. Needleman has been an outspoken critic. Instead, he advocated for legislation he introduced that would allow boards of education to define their own school districts, with their collaborations recognized by the state as Local Education Agencies. This would give them the ability to inspect their own budgets to reduce costs, also reducing complexity in state laws.

In March, Sen. Needleman joined school and town leaders at the State Capitol to advocate for the alternative legislation, which has been adopted into different committee bills. Those bills are scheduled to be discussed and potentially approved by the General Assembly in coming weeks. Additionally, Sen. Needleman met with Governor Lamont in Essex to show him how local schools in his district are already working to share services on a voluntary basis and emphasize how future legislation could further improve their efficiency.

“I look forward to continuing our work at the Capitol to help schools and towns save money, and I thank my fellow legislators for their consideration of the issue,” said Sen. Needleman.

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