Hands Off Our Schools: Rally against regionalization to be held Feb. 23

A rally against Senate Bill 454 — the proposal to consolidate school districts in towns with fewer than 40,000 residents — will be held in front of Ridgefield's Town Hall from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23.

Ridgefield resident Liz Floegel is organizing the event, which has been dubbed the "hands off our schools" initiative. It's expected to draw protesters from neighboring towns, including Wilton and Redding.

"The 'hands off our schools' initiative is an informal group formed to oppose forced regionalization and other bills that reduce local education control across Connecticut," Floegel told The Ridgefield Press Thursday, Feb. 14.

Regionalization has been met with opposition in Ridgefield. State Rep. John Frey, State Sen. Will Haskell, and Board of Education chairwoman Margaret Stamatis have each been vocal against State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney's bill.

Stamatis said the board has written a letter to Rep. Frey and Rep. Kenneth Gucker (D-138) and Sen. Haskell. In addition, they plan to attend a public hearing on regionalization that will take place before March 20. The location and time of that hearing is unknown.

"Where possible the Ridgefield BOE will continue to work with other towns to reduce the costs to taxpayers for the services that are required by our students," the board wrote in its letter to Ridgefield's state representatives. "It would be beneficial to students if the legal constraints and obstacles that have arisen from prior legislation were reduced to allow mutual benefit via cooperation.

"We urge you to reject these bills as they will have an adverse impact on the State’s public education system," the letter concluded.

A petition against SB 454 has gathered 5,828 signatures as of 12:51 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15.

For more information on the Feb. 23 rally, visit the Hands Off Our Schools Facebook page.

Town Hall is located at 400 Main Street in Ridgefield.

For more information, check back in at theridgefieldpress.com early next week.