March 21, 2019

Senator Haskell Lauds Governor Lamont’s Amended Education Proposal, Credits Collaborative Approach

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) lauded Governor Ned Lamont’s announcement that he has amended his proposal regarding the promotion of shared services in Connecticut, removing any language that would mandate school regionalization and instead emphasizing options for collaborative cost savings. This change comes after public opposition to earlier proposals and discussion between Sen. Haskell and Gov. Lamont on this important issue.

The Governor’s office announced Wednesday that its new proposal addresses concerns raised by Connecticut’s communities. It encourages collaboration and shared services among schools while taking into consideration constituents’ wishes against forced consolidation. The Governor’s new legislation uses school construction bonds, among other funds, to incentivize cost savings, but it does not force regionalization. Revised language in the Governor’s proposal emphasizes that the bipartisan commission on shared services will include appointees from six different regions of the state, ensuring geographic diversity and real representation on this important issue. It also underlines that any recommendations made by that commission would not be binding, and eliminates consideration of redistricting or forced 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. Haskell has opposed legislation mandating regionalization since it was announced earlier this year, and he credits the Governor’s amendment to open collaboration. Sen. Haskell met several times with Gov. Lamont and his administration, and the Governor visited Sen. Haskell’s district to meet with municipal leaders about this issue.

“I applaud Gov. Lamont for clarifying his approach toward school collaboration, and I am happy to see he understands the concerns of my constituents,” said Sen. Haskell. “At his budget address, the Governor said he would approach public policy with an open mind. He asked that instead of running to a microphone every time we disagree, we sit down and have a conversation. I did just that because I think that’s what real representation looks like. Our constituents aren’t well served when we simply say no. I’m grateful for all of my constituents who made their voices heard. I listened to their passion and knowledge and brought their perspective with me to Hartford. I look forward to continuing this discussion for the best possible outcome for our students. This is exactly what democracy looks like.”