Published 12:00 am, Sunday, January 14, 2018
MONROE — Monroe and Easton have joined in talks with nine other school districts about cutting costs by regionalizing resources.
With concerns about state funding mounting, representatives from Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Easton, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Easton and Monroe, and Regions 9, 12 and 15 met, recently to discuss bulk purchasing and regional transportation contracting.
“We’re always interested in finding ways to improve service to our students and to do so at a lower cost to the taxpayer,” said Thomas McMorran, the superintendent of schools for Easton, Redding and Region 9. “We’re individually all facing similar, costly changes in education financing, including insurance, transportation, special education and a whole host of other things, and if we can build local partnerships among districts, we should be able to provide better service to our kids.”
The initiative is especially important as Connecticut increases the number of unfunded mandates, McMorran said. Recently, the state cut funding for a required mentoring program for new teachers, ordered training for those working in special education and required that school districts provide more services for expelled students.
“We’re at a point in financing public schools where it’s more difficult for individual towns to go it alone,” McMorran said.
McMorran and Bethel Superintendent Christine Carver organized a recent workshop where district representatives discussed consolidating costs.
Sharing services in Monroe isn’t a new concept — the town’s public schools already share some resources with the town, Monroe Superintendent John Battista said.
And Battista pointed to a recent purchase of chromebooks as an example where all districts could benefit from combining on bulk orders.
“If we combined that order we could get a better deal,” Battista said. “We’re still going to pay our share of it, but we’re going to get a better deal.”
The three areas where Battista said could benefit from regionalization are special education, technology and transportation. More districts could share school buses to take special education students who attend schools outside of their area to school, he said.