Residents — including students — speak against regionalization bills

State Rep. Tom O'Dea, left, and Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith testify before the Education Committee. — Lynandro Simmons photo
State Rep. Tom O'Dea, left, and Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith testify before the Education Committee. — Lynandro Simmons photo

Wilton showed up in numbers to oppose all three bills on regionalization Friday afternoon, March 1.
More than 200 people signed up to speak before the Education Committee about SB 738, SB 457, SB 874 and HB 7150. Public officials spoke in the first hour, students spoke in the second, and then public officials and members of the public spoke in the third. Several of the students that spoke attend Wilton High School.
Brian Hartz, a student at Wilton High School, told the Education Committee it’s imperative they recognize the independence of local towns. He added regionalization should only be an optional choice for towns.
“It should not be forced or pressured into compliance,” Hartz said.
He also warned of the drawbacks if regionalization were to be passed. “The loss of local autonomy could erode the education of our local schools,” he said.
Wilton student Alexis Kiss said educational quality should supersede cost-saving goals.
“Programs at Wilton High School help students feel welcomed,” Kiss said. If Wilton were to regionalize, many special education students could be left without the aid they need, she added.
“Our education should not be controlled by a board detached and far away,” she said.
Wilton student Lilly Casiraghi said her parents moved to Wilton for the quality of the education.
“My parents have sacrificed much to keep me in this school district,” she said. Casiraghi added her younger sister feared what the repercussions could be if regionalization bills were passed.
“Quality education is our town’s greatest asset and greatest success, yet the proposed legislation doesn’t even mention the quality of education,” Casiraghi said.
Nicholas Wert a Wilton High School student said at a young age he was diagnosed with dyslexia. However, after moving from Norwalk to Wilton his life greatly changed, he said.
“I was exposed to so many people that helped me identify my weaknesses and turn them into strengths,” Wert said.
Superintendent Kevin Smith joined state Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-125) and Superintendent of New Canaan schools Bryan Luizzi to speak before the Education Committee. Smith said he was vehemently opposed to all three bills proposing regionalization.
Luizzi said efficiency and sustainability have always been important to their schools but emphasized efficiency should be coupled with quality.
“While efficiency is important, effectiveness is paramount,” Luizzi said.
He added that only through local schools can Connecticut continue to be a leader in education.
“Education is not an expense to be managed but an investment to be nurtured,” Luizzi said.