Aldermen In Ansonia And Derby To Talk Consolidating School Districts

Talk of a regional school district between Ansonia and Derby will continue this week at an Aldermen’s meeting in Ansonia scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Aldermen are scheduled to vote on whether to form a committee with Derby to study whether a regional school district should be created.

Similar legislation will make its way to the desk of the Derby Board of Aldermen, who are also scheduled to meet 7 p.m. Thursday.

While Ansonia and Derby schools have talked about sharing services for years — and still are — the mayors and legislative bodies are now talking about a formal process under state law that could, assuming it goes forward, result in referendums in both cities.

A vote in both communities could happen two years from now. Any plan would have to be approved by voters in both Derby and Ansonia.

Click here for a previous Valley Indy story on Derby’s part in the effort.

It’s important to note this is the beginning of a study that could take two years. Therefore, there’s no information today on what a regional school district might look like.

The regionalization talk has been fluid — a draft resolution in Derby mentions Seymour as being a possible merger destination, though that town’s Selectmen have not weighed-in and have no plans to do so.

Meanwhile, school boards in Ansonia, Derby, and Seymour are still talking about “sharing services.”

That refers to teaming up to lower costs. Over the years the districts have talked about combining food services, busing, and technology services.

Some of this should sound familiar to Derby and Ansonia residents.

In 2012, educational and government leaders in both cities held a few meetings to talk about consolidating school districts.

Click here to read a Valley Indy story on the 2012 effort.

Click here to read another Valley Indy story on the 2012 effort.

The talks resulted in some shared services, but true consolidation was stymied by teacher unions, former Mayor Anthony Staffieri said at the time. An issue — Derby teachers were paid more than Ansonia teachers.

The Derby school board also previously studied whether to combine its two elementary schools. That effort lost momentum after parents opposed the idea, retreating to the notion that Derby still has “neighborhood” schools.

Derby Mayor Rich Dziekan has argued that the state finances are much more precarious than they were in 2012, and that it makes sense now to thoroughly study the issue.

Finding ways to save money is critical to Ansonia and Derby. Both cities rank within the top four of the state’s distressed municipalities list.

The state education department sees both school districts as under-performing, which is why the districts receive extra state funding.

“It is very important to note that the study would not be limited to Ansonia and Derby,” Ansonia corporation counsel John Marini said in an email. “Other municipalities can join the group, thereby expanding the scope of the study. This is something that Mayor Cassetti is currently discussing with the leaders of other valley communities. The more participants, the greater the opportunity to strengthen education and reduce costs.”

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