To the Editors:
(The following letter to the Senate and House Education Committee co-chairs Douglas McCrory and Robert Sanchez and the remaining members of the Education Committee is printed here at the author’s request.)
As a former first selectman of the Town of Wilton, I am deeply concerned over these recently proposed bills that lack understanding of the potential severe consequences to the excellent educational system in Wilton and to many other communities in the State. SB 454/738 has created a citizen uproar in many communities across the state, as it outlines a state-dictated mandate that would forcibly require compliance with the recommendations of an unknown state-appointed commission! It suggests administrative or other cost savings, but provides no evidence or factual justification.
Connecticut citizens recognize the state has serious financial problems. However, an ill-thought-out consolidation of school districts is clearly not the right direction to be pursued. Our state continues to lose citizens due to high taxes on business and high personal property taxes. Our excellent educational system, private schools and outstanding universities are high value Connecticut resources. This bill attacks one of our most important assets and if ever approved would contribute to an additional outflow of residents, many of whom came to our state for our schools, further eroding state revenue and accelerating the current financial crisis. Families are very upset in our community, as our school system is highly valued and supported by parents and students who have forged close relationships with school officials and teaching staff.
As legislative leaders of our great state, I strongly urge you not to support this poorly conceived bill, as well as SB 457 or other morphed versions. Forced consolidation is not the way to proceed, due to unverified cost savings and an array of negative implications involving sensitive collective bargaining agreements, transportation issues and local capital investments/bonding issues. In brief, our district school leaders believe there are other more effective ways to achieve substantial educational cost savings. They should be listened to.
Thank you for allowing me to express my strong objection to this proposed bill.
William F. Brennan
Former Wilton First Selectman
Wilton, Feb. 17