Region 12 ponders its merger options
Published 4:43 pm, Tuesday, December 23, 2014
A marriage of school districts between Region 12 and Litchfield may soon be in the courtship stage.
Speculation is afoot the Litchfield school district may be interested in merging with Region 12, which serves the towns of Washington, Bridgewater and Roxbury.
First Selectman Leo Paul Jr., of Litchfield, has spoken with Roxbury First Selectman Barbara Henry about the possibility of merging high school students.
Roxbury's longtime chief executive has said she thinks it would be productive to sit down and talk.
"We're just in the preliminary stages," Paul said Monday.
"We were taking the opportunity to merge with Region 6 very seriously. It had been endorsed by our town officials," he said. "Then Region 6 pulled back.
"That generated interested from other parties. I received a letter from a Shepaug resident."
Region 6, comprising the towns of Warren, Morris and Goshen, reached out in April to Litchfield to talk merger. Despite Litchfield's interest, however, residents of Region 6 recently decided against the consolidation.
Paul said he will broach the concept of a merger with Region 12 with Litchfield's Board of Education prior to more talks outside his district.
Litchfield has a new superintendent coming on board after the first of the year, he said.
First Selectman Mark Lyon, of Washington, said he is waiting for a phone call from Paul.
"I heard he was interested in talking, and we're interested in talking to anybody," Lyon said. "I'm looking forward to the conversation and hope our Board of Education is receptive."
Pat Cosentino, Region 12's superintendent of schools, said Monday she has not heard from Paul, but has received a letter from a former Shepaug student encouraging such a merger.
She passed it along to the Board of Education.
"I'd be responsive to any district that wants to work together for consolidation in the future," Cosentino said. "We'd certainly love to have children coming to Shepaug. I'm not sure if that is what Litchfield is thinking."
Region 12 has been struggling in recent years to address a declining student population. A projection accepted by the Board of Education predicts by 2023 regionwide enrollment will have declined to 460 students. At this time, there are about 740 students in the region's four schools.
In Litchfield, a 20-minute drive from Shepaug Valley School, it is projected there will be 795 students in 2021-22, down 200 students from 2013-14 enrollment.