State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) has invited education professionals and members of the public to attend and speak at a public meeting designed to help identify state mandates that may be detrimental to teaching and learning in Connecticut’s public schools. The meeting will be held on Thursday, November 21, at 7 p.m., at Bedford Middle School, 88 North Avenue, in Westport.

The meeting will be run like a public hearing where all in attendance will have an opportunity to speak. Participants from school districts anywhere in the state are welcome. Everyone is encouraged to submit written comments, particularly since speakers may be asked to summarize their oral remarks if attendance is high.

Ms. Lavielle is one of the appointees to a task force created during the 2013 legislative session by PA 13-108 to identify opportunities to offer relief to public schools from mandates that may be negatively affecting their ability to provide the best possible education to students. She authored the section of the bill that required the creation of the task force. Ms. Lavielle will preside at the meeting and listen to speakers’ comments along with other task force members, including Colleen Palmer, superintendent of the Weston Public Schools.

“Our goal is to have a legislative proposal ready for the 2014 session, which opens during the first week of February,” Ms. Lavielle said in a press release.

“In identifying options for mandate relief, we want to address the concerns that superintendents of schools, principals, teachers, parents, school board members, union representatives, elected officials, and members of the general public have expressed over the past few years,” she said.

“Teachers are overburdened with administrative tasks, and towns are under constant pressure from escalating costs in their schools. Mandate relief can help school districts save money by operating more efficiently and free up resources to devote more time to educating students and to pursue real innovation in learning that will benefit every Connecticut school district.

“The ultimate goal,” she continued, “is to ensure that our schools can provide the best possible learning environment and education to our students.

“It’s important to note that, while the bill creating the task force refers to mandate relief for only high-performing schools, there may be state mandates that are unnecessary, ineffective, or detrimental to learning in all our public schools,” Ms. Lavielle said. “And it is also critical to recognize that mandate relief options provided in high-performing school districts may well translate effectively to other districts. That is why we absolutely want to hear from all types of school districts at this meeting and during all of our research on the subject.”

Those who cannot attend the Westport meeting or would like to submit written comments or discuss the issue may contact Ms. Lavielle at gail.lavielle@cga.ct.gov, 860 240 8700.