Marconi testifies against school regionalization

Giving voice to widespread opposition to school regionalization efforts being talked of in Hartford, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi addressed the legislature’s education committee — acting in his new role as president of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST).
“COST opposes forced consolidation/regionalization,” Marconi said at the beginning of his testimony.
“...A one-size-fits-all approach to consolidation/regionalizing schools:
“(1) does not guarantee any savings and may actually increase costs for many towns;
“(2) generally requires significant upfront costs;
“(3) undermines the quality and delivery of education for many students;
“(4) disrupts our communities;
“and (5) fails to address issues that are driving up education costs.”
Hartford bills
There are a number of bills that have been put forward by various legislators in Hartford, pushing the idea of regionalization among school districts. The motivating factors include sharing costs, reducing administrative overhead, and addressing long-standing inequalities among Connecticut’s schools.
But the regionalization initiatives have met with vehement opposition among many suburban and rural towns — Ridgefield among them — where the quality and independence of local schools is closely guarded.
COST leader
As Ridgefield’s elected leader, Marconi has long been an active member of the Council of Small Towns (COST) and became president of the group in January.
He went up to Hartford to testify on the regionalization issue Friday, March 1 — a week after about 200 opponents of school regionalization from Ridgefield, Wilton and other neighboring towns had rallied in front of Ridgefield Town Hall on Saturday, Feb. 23.
“I got up there at noon, was supposed to testify at 1, and I got to testify at 3,” Marconi said later.
“What I said, in short: Our education system is one of the strongest assets Connecticut has today,” Marconi said. “With everything that’s broken in state government, why do people in Hartford feel our education system needs to be redesigned or changed? I just don’t understand that.”