Q and A

Q and A Index

                   

1. Why “Better Together”?       

1.1 Why now?

 

2.  What’s the vision?

2.1 What’s the vision?

2.2 Broadly, what will that kind of education look like?

2.3 How will it compare with practice in leading districts?

 

3.  What Steps Have Been Taken So Far and What Happens Next?

3.1 What steps so far?

3.2 And how are stakeholder groups involved in this effort?

3.3 Assuming the referendum passes, what's the implementation timetable? 

 

4.  District Organization and Operations

4.1 How will schools and grades be organized?

4.2 How many students will each school serve?

4.3 What will school schedules look like?

4.4 Who will make up the professional staff?

4.5 How will staffing decisions be made?

4.6 How many staff will the new district need?  How many are there now?

4.7 What will class sizes and student-teacher ratios be?

 

5.  Education Quality

5.1 How will consolidation improve learning and teaching?

5.2 How will curriculums from the two districts be integrated into one?

5.3 How will academic opportunity compare with what exists now?

5.4 How will academics be better for students who don’t take electives?

5.5 What will curriculum and instruction look like in the lower grades?

5.6 How is a larger district more able to improve curriculum and teaching?

5.7 What will assure that the district is aware of and adopting “best practices”?

5.8 What added support will there be for the full academic spectrum of students, including those from minority and less advantaged backgrounds?

5.9 Are students at risk of being overlooked in larger middle and high schools?

5.10 Will special programs be as strong as before?

5.11 How will middle school students benefit from being in their own building?

 

6.  Counseling and Psychology

6.1 How will the District address psycho-social issues?

 

7.  Athletics, Extra- and Co-curricular Activities

7.1 What will happen to athletic teams, arts and other extra-curriculars?

7.2 Will there be need for more athletic or other extra-curricular facilities?

 

8.  School Community

8.1 What will assure students have a smooth transition to a new district? 

8.2 What will foster a sense of school community, pride and mutual respect?

8.3 How will students from the four towns and the agri-science program interact and how will they benefit?

 

9.  Assessment

9.1 What will assure that quality of instruction, programs and opportunities are as strong as or stronger than before?

 

10. Governance

10.1 How will the new board of education work and how will votes be distributed among the towns?

10.2 Who will make decisions during the transition to a new district?

10.3 How will stakeholder committees contribute?

10.4 Shouldnt bigger towns have more representatives on the school board than smaller ones — since they have more residents and more students?

 

11. Financials

11.1 How will budget contributions for each town be determined for each town?

11.2 What are the projected savings from consolidation?

11.3 What main factors account for the savings?

11.4 How will the savings be distributed among the four towns?

11.5 Why are Litchfield’s savings lower, proportionally than the other towns’?

 

 

 

 

1. Why “Better Together?”

 

  • Because everybody benefits. 

 

A Regional District 20 serving Goshen, Litchfield, Morris and Warren will improve education for our children, improve graduates’ possibilities, control costs and help keep our four-town area viable. 

 

1.1 Why Now? 

 

  • New solutions for new 21st century demands.

 

Over the past seventy years, our towns have considered periodically whether to consolidate school districts.  The time never seemed right.  But today, times and conditions are different, and the future is uncertain.

 

Litchfield County’s demographics are different. We are older.  Younger people have been leaving.  The school-age population has been declining for years.  More second home owners live here part-time, and the cost of living is rising. 

 

The economy is different, too.  Our agricultural past has evolved into a present of small and mid-sized companies, services, entrepreneurs — and a far smaller agribusiness sector.  Especially in view of how the internet has changed work, fewer jobs have to be located in any particular place.

 

Each of our towns has much to commend it.  But under the circumstances, why should someone choose to live here instead of someplace else in the region — or beyond?

 

Regionalization will create a single school district whose quality enhances students’ education, prepares graduates for 21st-century challenges, encourages current residents to remain and is an incentive for new residents to settle here permanently.  One that can also be more financially sustainable. One which will strengthen the economy and social fabric of our four-town area.

 

The alternative is a future much like the past — one with an aging population and more part-timers, one of even more rapidly escalating expenditure and more limited opportunity for students.

 

 

2. What’s the vision?

 

2.1  Describe the vision

 

  • National leadership and an exemplary education — strengthening our towns.

 

Our schools serve an economic cross-section of students in a semi-rural area with a strong agricultural past and a mixed economy today.  Most graduates go to college; others immediately pursue careers in agriculture-related or other fields. 

 

Going forward, we have an opportunity to create a new district whose size positions it to be a recognized national leader of its kind, providing students an exemplary education that prepares them for success after they graduate. 

 

Regionalization will make it possible to achieve these goals more economically than if our towns continue to support two separate school districts.

 

2.2 Broadly, what will that kind of education look like?

 

  • Conserve the best of what exists.  Accomplish what smaller districts can’t.

 

Ideally, it will build on what exists today, seeking to conserve strengths of the two founding districts.  Schools will still be small enough for adults to know their students well and for students to feel known and respected.  The district will be large enough to preserve, and in some cases expand existing offerings, and to adopt new programs and approaches that the two smaller ones would find hard to afford.  It will continue to provide a sound basic education while also engaging students with ideas and skills that are important in a complex 21st-century world. 

 

2.3 How will that compare with practice in leading districts?

 

  • A plan to ensure program and teaching are informed by best practices.

 

An important element of program development and assessment will be the professional staff’s awareness of research and of “best practices” in high-performing schools.  Professional leadership (administration and faculty) and the board of education in District 20 will address this question through the assessment process and through curriculum and teaching (see below).

 

 

3. What steps have been taken so far and what happens next?

 

3.1 What’s been done?  What’s going to happen?

 

  • The regionalization study, the proposal, and town-by-town votes in June.

 

Study groups including parents, teachers, administrators, local officials, and community members have offered advice and made recommendations in a regionalization study. The two existing boards of education have endorsed the proposal and submitted it to the State Department of Education.  The four local select boards have also been consulted, consistent with State law.

 

The proposal describes how the new district will be organized and how a new board of education — the one that will make decisions for all aspects of the district’s operations — will be elected.  The proposal includes enrollment and financial projections. In general, these best estimates assume that current programs and services will continue, including those that currently exist in one district and not the other. 

 

The proposal must have State approval this spring before each community can vote on the plan in June.

 

State regulations stipulate that decisions about the new district will be in the hands of the new Region 20 Board of Education. What the existing boards and professional staff can do now is describe current best thinking about what will happen in the future, based on past practice and current intent. 

 

It is important to recall the safeguards designed to assure the new board’s decisions are responsive to the public will.  The board will accountable to residents and voters through public meetings and the ballot.  Budgets will be subject to voter approval.

 

3.2 How are stakeholder groups involved in this effort?

 

  • So far, proposal development. Going forward, committees and consultation.

 

Community residents, current board members and staff have all been involved as members of the regionalization planning committee. 

 

Going forward, stakeholders including parents, residents and professional and support staff will be asked to participate in the implementation process (below).  An objective will be to ensure that professional and support staff voices are well-represented and fully consulted in areas of their expertise, and that other groups, such as parents, have input into decisions that affect them or their children.

 

 

3.3   Assuming the referendum passes, what’s the implementation timetable? 

  • two-year transition.  Middle and high schools will open in fall 2024.

 

Assuming the referendum passes in each of the four towns in June, a new interim Region 20 board of education must be created within 30 days.  Members of the two existing school boards may agree to serve on the interim board to provide continuity.  

 

The interim board will oversee the start of a two-year transition process.  Its members will serve until representatives to the permanent board gain office in the normal local election cycle. 

 

During the transition period, planning teams will address both shorter-range questions about implementation, as well as longer-range concerns.  These will include establishing by-laws and setting policy, implementing the mechanics school and student body mergers, creating new school identities and cultures, developing common curriculum and support systems for students, assembling a new combined faculty, addressing 21st-century learning goals, and so on.  

 

Much of this work will go into effect as it’s completed during the two transition years.  The new combined middle and high schools will begin to operate in the fall of academic year 2024-2025.

 

 

4. District Organization and Operations

 

On one hand, the existing Districts want to be transparent about the assumptions in the consolidation study.  On the other hand, it is impossible to give definitive answers to some questions, since the new board of education will make decisions and since unforeseen circumstances will affect what actually happens.

 

As with all the projections in the study, therefore, enrollment and staffing numbers are the best estimates now; changes will necessarily occur as conditions become clearer in the process of implementation.  Based on what’s currently known, those changes should not be at a significant order of magnitude.

 

4.1 How will the schools and grades be organized?

 

  • Elementary schools remain as is.  Consolidation of middle and high schools.

 

    • Elementary Schools — Warren, Morris, Goshen elementary schools will serve children in grades K-5.  Litchfield Center school will serve children in grades K-3. Students in grades 4-5 will go to the Litchfield Intermediate School building. 
    • Middle School — All grade 6-8 students will attend a new middle school located in the current Litchfield Middle/High School building.
    • High School — All grade 9-12 students will attend a new high school located in the current Wamogo building, which will also continue to serve students in its selective agri-science program.

 

4.2 How many students will each of the schools serve?

 

  • Elementary schools remain as is.  320 and 610 at the middle and high schools.

 

    • Grades K-5 — will be in schools approximately the same size as at present
    • Middle school — approximately 320 students
    • High school — approximately 610 students, including tuition students in the agri-science program.  (About the same size as Lewis-Mills High School, Nonnewaug High School, Northwestern High School and the Taft School in Watertown.)

 

4.3 What will school schedules look like?

 

  • Much like they do now.

 

Current thinking is that the length of the academic day should not change, although school hours might be adjusted to create savings in transportation costs.

 

At both the elementary and secondary levels, academic scheduling should look much the same as it does now, although an expanded high school will offer more courses.  As a result, students whose schedules have space for electives will have more to choose from.

 

4.4 How will the new district assemble its professional staff?

 

  • State law says that all professional staff must reapply for positions, subject to collective bargaining.

 

State law stipulates that when a new regional district is created, all professional staff must reapply for a job.  The application and hiring processes are subject to collective bargaining.  The regionalization study anticipates that retirements and normal attrition will account for all but three of the administrative and/or teaching positions that are not lost because of consolidation.

 

4.5 How will staffing decisions be made?

 

  • Policy set by joint committee and collective bargaining.

 

In the first year of transition, a joint committee including a Board of Education representative(s), administration, faculty, staff and union representative(s) will establish criteria for decisions about staffing.   

 

4.6 How many staff are there now; how many will the new district need?

 

  • A total of 355 now, a projected 338. Most losses are absorbed through retirement.

 

The combined professional staffs of the two districts currently number 208 teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, librarians, and other state-certified positions.  There are 107 support staff, including special education teaching assistants, secretaries, custodians, nurses, and similar positions.  Special education, mentioned separately because state and federal regulations largely determine services and staffing, currently accounts for 40 teaching and teaching assistant positions.

 

The regionalization study and the estimated budget assume that District 20 will need 11 fewer professional positions (administrators, teachers, e.g.) and 6 fewer support staff (secretaries, custodians, teaching assistants e.g.).  The plan assumes that the number of teachers actually affected by this reduction will be in the single digits — perhaps as few as one or two — after retirements and voluntary departures to other districts.

 

It is impossible to determine precisely which individuals will be affected.  That will depend on a number of factors, including who retires and which/how many areas of certification teachers have.

 

The plan is to provide timely information and counsel for all staff members during the transition period and to help individuals affected by the staff reduction to find appropriate outplacement.

 

4.7 What will class sizes and student-teacher ratios be? 

 

  • About the Connecticut midpoint or slightly lower.

 

The consolidation study includes five years of financial projections, which make assumptions about numbers of students, teachers, and class sizes and which assume a continuation of current staffing practices.

 

The projections assume that elementary enrollments at each school will continue as at present, with larger numbers in some grades and fewer students in others.  Those numbers determine elementary class sizes which, assuming student-teacher ratios remain the same, will vary by grade, similar to what happens now. 

 

Average high school and middle school class size will be approximately 18 according to the projections.  The state average is approximately 21.  Because a larger school, with more students, can schedule more efficiently than a smaller one, it will typically have fewer very small and fewer very large classes, with more falling in between. 

 

There will be exceptions.  For example, a fourth year world language course might run with a relatively small number of students because it allows them to complete the course sequence.  A popular senior year elective could run with a larger-than-normal enrollment (say, 26 students) because the alternative would be to break the group into two small classes (say, 13 students) that are uneconomical.

 

Student-teacher ratio at the secondary level is projected to be approximately13:1.  The Connecticut average is approximately 12:1. 

 

Special education class sizes and student-teacher ratios will conform to federal and state requirements, as they do now. 

 

 

5. Education Quality

 

5.1 How will consolidation improve learning and teaching?

 

  • Electives and other immediate gains.  Longer-term potential.

 

There will be immediate gains — expanded electives for students at the middle and high schools, for instance.  Perhaps more important is what consolidation will make possible.  More students, more flexible staffing and combined resources will position the district to support initiatives that address 21st-century curriculum standards, support continuous improvement in teaching, and focus more purposefully on building positive school culture and climate.

 

In a larger school, for example, more students can generate enough demand to justify programs, course offerings and course sequences that a smaller one, with fewer students, couldn’t.  Likewise, larger districts can support continuous improvement in teaching through programs and services that a smaller one would have trouble justifying. 

 

The degree to which District 20 realizes this potential will depend on future boards of education and the voting public.  But without the possibilities a new beginning creates, the future will look much like the past. 

 

5.2 How will the different curriculums from two districts be integrated into one?

 

  • Focus on 21st century standards; eliminate duplication.

 

State requirements already determine elements of what’s taught.  As in the past, furthermore, district-level committees, grade-level committees, and departments will also engage in the ongoing process of curriculum review. 

 

The current best thinking is that in the first year of the consolidation process, this review will focus on reconciling what exists in the two districts and assuring it meets 21st century standards.  The effort will eliminate unnecessary duplication

 

5.3 How will academic opportunity compare with what exists now?

 

  • More electives, more student access to courses of choice.

 

The regionalization study assumes that the new high school and middle school will preserve or extend existing opportunities in class and course selection and in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. There will be more elective courses for students who have room for electives in their schedules.  Juniors and seniors will benefit the most. 

 

Also, where necessary, there will be more sections of a given class to accommodate the larger student population. That will increase schedule flexibility.  (If there are six sections of ninth grade English instead of three,  for instance,  they will be offered during more periods in the day — creating more options for when a student can schedule the course.) 

 

At a minimum, therefore, students should have no greater difficulty getting into classes of choice than before.  For many, it should be easier.

 

5.4 How will academics be better for students who have few or no electives?

 

  • Quality of teaching and learning; economies of scale and more opportunity.

 

At the middle and high school levels, many students take required courses, and have relatively little room for electives in their schedules.  District and school regionalization will improve their academic experience to the extent that it can enhance the quality of teaching and learning (below) and to the extent it capitalizes on economies of scale (below) to provide more and better service.

 

5.5 What will curriculum and teaching look like in the lower grades?

 

  • Maintain existing strengths, build capacity, and use staffing more flexibly.

 

Programs in the elementary and intermediate schools will look similar to what exists now.  A larger District 20’s enhanced ability to strengthen curriculum and to support continuous improvement in teaching will build professional capacity.  The new district should also be able to share “special” staff more effectively than either of the two existing districts alone, improving service in areas such as special education.  

 

Currently, there is no plan to expand pre-K programming or to offer it where it does not exist.  A new board of education will have to address any inconsistencies in the two existing districts’ practices.     

 

5.6 How is a larger district more able to improve curriculum and teaching?

 

  • Through programs, classes and services smaller districts can’t support

 

More students and economies of scale can enable a larger district or school to support programs, classes or services that a smaller one would have trouble justifying financially.  For example, a larger high school could have enough students to justify having a science research class or a remedial support center.  It could consider a course sequence focused on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, whereas a smaller one might not.  

 

Similarly, on the premise that continuous improvement is essential in schools, as in businesses, it could pool existing funds to create more or better professional education for teachers — classes or consultant help, for instance.  It might be able to increase instructional “coaching” — so that classroom observers can give teachers more feedback to improve their work.  To give a couple of examples.

 

5.7 What will assure that the district is aware of and adopting “best practices”?

 

  • A new opportunity to explore leading-edge practices in the 2000s.

 

Current thinking is that there will be one or more standing, district-level, teacher-administrator committee(s) on curriculum and instruction.  It or they will consider and recommend strategies to strengthen curriculum, programs, and quality of teaching.  This process will offer the new district and its newly-assembled faculty an unusual opportunity to explore developments in the field generally and in other districts, in particular — and to plan how best to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.

 

The new board of education will have to consider the degree to which new programs or services will enhance education quality and are financially justifiable.  If new offerings require added funding, budget proposals will have to include the requests.

 

5.8 How will the district support the full academic spectrum of students, including those from minority or less advantaged backgrounds?

 

  • An opportunity to provide more help where it’s needed more.

 

Economies of scale will position District 20 to do a better job of supporting students across the academic spectrum.  Efforts could include academic support or tutorial centers, enrichment opportunities, independent study and research programs, counseling groups, peer support groups and so on.

 

Such efforts would grow out of the program/curriculum review process and recommendations for budgeting, where appropriate.

 

5.9 Are students at risk of being overlooked in larger middle and high schools?

 

  • Ensuring students are known — and that they feel known and cared about. 

 

Neither of the schools will be large by education standards; typically, for example, a school principal can know most students in a 600-pupil school by face, if not all of them by name.  In a 300-pupil school, the principal can know every student.  And of course, a basic professional obligation of every teacher and administrator is to know students and to support them academically and personally.

 

That said, support could be built into the new middle and high schools at minimal or no cost.   For example, some districts have advisory programs in which older students meet periodically with small groups of younger ones to establish connections and a sense of belonging.  Some have adult-student advisory groups that help students “navigate” the system and address problems or issues that arise in the normal course. 

 

Other arrangements could require more financial investment.

 

5.10 Will special programs be as strong as before?

 

  • Continuing special programs where required — and not required — by law.

 

Special education programs and services are largely governed by state and federal law and regulation.  Consolidation will not change what the new district is required to do or how it must provide services. 

 

There is no thought of reducing non-mandated local services — reading support in the elementary schools, for example — although it may be possible to share staff more efficiently.

 

The agriculture/science program at the high school is a recognized leader in the region and state.  Students are admitted through a competitive application process.  The consolidation proposal assumes the program will remain intact.

 

Again, the new faculty and administration and the new board of education will need to consider what improvements or enhancements may be desirable and whether they should be proposed in future budgets. 

 

5.11 How will middle school students benefit from being in their own building?

 

  • A focus on early adolescentsacademic, social, and developmental needs.

 

Middle schools often have stand-alone settings so that the people and programs in them can concentrate on the particular strengths and needs of early adolescents.  This is a period of tremendous human growth during which people experience major emotional and developmental changes and come to academic work with quite different levels of readiness.

A separate middle school will have its own location, its own identity and its own approaches to teaching and learning, focusing on students’ education and personal development at a unique time in their lives.  Quite simply, it’s easier to work toward these objectives when the middle grades aren’t at the tag end of a senior high school or the top end of an elementary school.

 

 

6. Counseling and Psychology

 

6.1 How will the new district address psycho-social issues?

 

  • A robust program of services;  taking the best from each district.

 

Counseling and psychology services are currently available to the general student population in both districts, as well as to students who need more specialized support.  Among them are small group and individual counseling related to normal academic and social stresses and to college placement.  Additionally, staff offer help with socio-emotional skills, behavior management, crisis counseling and student outplacement, among other services. District 20 will continue these services.  

 

Currently, the two districts have different staff configurations and different kinds of service at the elementary and secondary levels.  Litchfield has one more counselor and .4 more psychologists/social workers than Region 6.  However, Region 6 contracts with the Greenwoods Referral and Counseling Service and with the Connecticut Junior Republic for services not provided by school staff.

 

It will be necessary to resolve inconsistencies in current practice in a new district.                    

 

 

7. Athletics, Extra- and Co-Curricular Activities

 

7.1 What will happen to athletic teams, arts, and other extra-curriculars? 

 

  • Maintain or increase opportunity and levels of participation

 

The financial projections assume District 20 will continue to support all existing offerings.  Since each high school currently offers some activities that the other doesn’t, there will actually be more kinds of opportunities for all students.

 

At the same time, in activities where participation is limited (varsity basketball, e.g), more students will compete for the same limited number of positions as before.  If nothing changes, some who might have made a team in a smaller school will not play in a larger one.

 

The new board will have to consider the value students derive from athletics and extracurriculars and decide how important it is to maintain past percentages of participation — or to increase them.  (That is, whether it’s desirable for the same percentage of students as before — or more — to take part, going forward.)

 

In some cases, it will be possible to re-deploy existing resources to maintain or increase opportunities for participation.  (To field a varsity and a junior varsity team for instance, in place of two existing varsity squads.) 

 

It would also be possible to add levels (thirds or freshman teams e.g.), new sports (lacrosse, e.g.), or other activities ( in the performing arts e.g.) to maintain or increase the percentage of students who can take part. 

 

And, of course, some existing activities — chorus, for instance — might be able to accommodate more students and be stronger as a result.

 

7.2 Will we need more athletic or other extra-curricular facilities?

 

  • For future consideration.

 

In the future, the new board of education could propose budgets that include funding for transportation to existing facilities at other sites or to add fields or facilities.

 

 

8. School Community

 

8.1 What will assure students have a smooth transition to a new district?  What will foster a sense of school community, pride and mutual respect?

 

  • A plan for a positive transition and positive school culture

 

Current thinking is that in the first year of transition, a committee and/or committees including students, professional staff, parents and community members will be asked to recommend names for the District and the regional high and middle schools, mascot(s) and similar matters.  It/they will also describe steps that will be taken to create positive school and district cultures.  Additionally, the group(s) will address related matters, such as activities and/or events that will prepare students for the transition and measures that will assure students accept one another and feel accepted in the new schools. 

 

As with other committee work, the board of education will receive recommendations, solicit other views it deems relevant (community input, e.g.), and make decisions about those matters.

8.2 The high school will bring together students from four different towns, plus those in the selective agri-science program.  How will they all interact and how will they benefit?

  • Preparing students for success in a diverse and complex world.

 

Many Litchfield and Region 6 students already know each other, compete with and against one another, and associate outside of school.  At the same time, residents of the four towns come from a healthy range of economic and social backgrounds.

 

That breadth will be a strength of District 20.  It will offer students valuable life experience, broaden their perspectives and deepen their understanding of others.  Those selected for the high school’s competitive admission agri-science program will add value to the mix. 

 

First-hand experience of their peers’ social and economic diversity will help prepare students for success when they graduate into an even more complex, multi-cultural, adult world.

 

 

9. Assessment 

 

9.1 How will we know if instruction, programs and opportunities are as strong as — or stronger than — before?

 

  • A plan for evaluating school and student performance
     

Current thinking is that a joint committee of Board of Education members, teachers and administrators will address this question during the first year of transition.  It will recommend a method or methods of assessing the effectiveness of the transition, as well as the effectiveness of program and instruction, going forward.  Included in the recommendations will be a plan for reporting findings to the board of education at least once each year.

 

 

10. Governance

 

10.1 How will the new board of education work?  How will votes be distributed among the towns?

  • Authority balanced; every town’s interests protected.

 

Each town will have three representatives.  Consistent with state regulation, each representative’s vote will be weighted according to town population.  For example, if a town has 30 percent of the district population, its representatives’ votes will be worth more than those from a town with 15 percent of the population.  

There will be built-in safeguards to ensure that all towns’ interests are protected and that no one or two can ride over the others.  For any measure to pass, at least one representative from each town must vote “yes;" passage will require at least a 66 percent positive margin. 

As a practical matter, the existing District 6 Board — which has this weighted system of representation now — has rarely if ever relied on it in reaching decisions.  Its members have generally viewed themselves as responsible for both their towns and the region, voting on the merits of issues, not along party or town lines.  

Again, it is important to recall that the board will be accountable to residents through the ballot box and that voters must approve budgets.

 

10.2 Who will make decisions during and after the transition to a new district?

 

  • An interim board until the new Region 20 Board is elected.

 

An interim board will exist until permanent members can be elected in a normal November cycle.  Select boards in each town have the authority to appoint interim members.

 

The new board of education will be responsible for setting policy direction.  It will receive committee reports and the superintendent’s recommendation(s), solicit other views it deems relevant (community input, e.g.), and make policy decisions.  The superintendent will make decisions and implement programs consistent with board policy.  The professional staff and other stakeholders will make recommendations to the superintendent, implement district and school policies, and make decisions in their areas of responsibility. 

 

10.3 How will stakeholders contribute?

 

  • Stakeholder committee composition during the transition and after.

 

Stakeholder committees will address each of the following areas during the transition and thereafter.  While several of these groups will consist primarily of education staff with expertise in the area under study, some will include parent or community representatives.  Also, the administration and/or new school board will seek parent and community input after committee reports are submitted.

 

Full descriptions above.

 

  • Staffing and Hiring.  
  • Assessment and Accountability
  • Curriculum and Instruction   
  • School Community/Transition Process. 
     

10.4 Shouldnt bigger towns have more representatives on the school board than smaller ones — since they have more residents and more students?

 

  • Balancing political interests.  Encouraging a non-political partnership.

 

The proposed board structure is an effort to balance the political interests of larger and smaller towns.  At the same time, it encourages a non-political partnership in decisions about childrens education.

 

On one hand, and consistent with State law, towns with more voters will have greater weight in determining whether budgets pass.  Likewise, board members' votes at the table will be weighted in proportion to their towns populations.   On the other hand, the proposed voting structure has built-in safeguards — a supermajority voting provision, for example — to ensure that no one or two towns or their interests can drown out minority or divergent views. 

 

Meanwhile, the equal number of board seats for each town invites members to form a non-political partnership that will make decisions in the best interest of all students.  An assumption being that whats best for kids seldom, if ever, has to do with what town they come from — and that voting on political lines is unlikely to advance their interests.

 

This is how the existing Region 6 board has worked from the beginning.  It has rarely, if ever, relied on weighted voting to reach decisions.  That is a reason voters in the smaller towns may be willing to support a District 20 in which their size means they have less impact at the ballot box and in weighted votes at the board table. 

 

 

11. Financials

 

11.1 How will budget contributions for each town be determined?

 

  • Budget contributions proportional to each town’s student population.

 

The district will determine how many students its budget will support.  Then it will calculate the budget allocation per pupil (total budget divided by the number of students). Each town will then be responsible for funding its portion of the total budget. That is, it will pay the per-pupil cost of each of its students.  This method, required by State law, is what District 6 uses today.

 

11.2 What are the projected financial savings from regionalization?

 

  • $2,605,500 in the first year.  $13,000,000 over five years*

 

A regional district will save money for everyone and also give the towns the option of re-investing in education and the future.

 

In the first year of regionalization, 2024-25, projected total savings will be $2,605,597, compared with 2021-22 expenditures. 

 

Estimated savings for each town in the first year:  Goshen $1,017,443;  Litchfield $255,875;  Morris $737,254;  Warren $595,025.

 

*Savings on the same order will recur every year, amounting to $13,027,985 over five years, modified by additions or reductions in programs and services or by changes in other factors such as state aid. Deep dive into the financials can be found here.

 

11.3 What main factors account for the savings?

 

  • Staffing, transportation, program consolidation.

 

More efficient staffing — largely at the consolidated middle and high schools, also some administrative and support positions.  Also, combined bus routes and consolidated extra-curricular activities.

 

11.4 How will savings be distributed among the four towns?

 

  • In proportion to population and also based on past per-pupil investment.

 

The amount of each town’s dollar savings will be the difference between its contribution to a school district budget in 2023-24 (the last year of the current district structure) and the lesser amount of money it contributes to the new District 20 budget in 2024-25.

 

Proportionately, savings in Litchfield won’t be as significant as in the other three towns — but not because the distribution is unfair.

 

11.5. Why will Litchfield’s savings be lower, proportionally, than the other towns’?

 

  • Its cost per-pupil is lower to start with; regionalization will still save it money.

 

Litchfield starts out with a lower per-pupil cost because its size and location make it more cost-effective than Region 6.  It operates fewer buildings.  Other expenses, like transportation, are also lower.  (The district is smaller in area and more centralized than Region 6, so its bus runs can be more efficient.)

If regionalization occurs and there’s a new District 20 budget for everyone, Litchfield’s lower per-pupil cost and Region 6’s higher per-pupil cost will average out somewhere in between the two, so that there's a shared equal per-pupil cost in all four towns. 

If that were all that happened, Litchfield’s new cost per pupil would be higher than before, while the cost per pupil in the other three towns would be lower.

But it’s not the end of the story.  

Consolidation will create economies of scale that save so much money, per-pupil costs for all four towns will go down.  So if the districts do regionalize, Litchfield will be helping the District 6 towns reduce their cost.  But it will also be reducing its own. 

If regionalization doesn’t happen, on the other hand, no town will realize any savings and all will eventually pay more for the same or less.