Could Region 6 merge with Litchfield schools?
Published 5:37 pm, Wednesday, April 2, 2014
A recommendation to create a new region with the Litchfield school district will be presented to the Region 6 Board of Education during its Wednesday, April 9 meeting.
Representatives from the Region 6 towns of Warren, Morris and Goshen have been meeting since June 2013 in an enrollment task force.
It was agreed March 25 regionalization with Litchfield would be the preferred option.
The Board of Education will be asked Wednesday to present the proposal to the public through a series of informational meetings.
The question will eventually be put to the voters.
Jack Travers, the Warren member of the task force, was unavailable for comment this week.
However, member Allan Walker, of Goshen, explained its members' rational.
"Among the most serious problems Region 6 is facing is that our high school (Wamogo) population is tiny and getting tinier," Walker said. "If we combined the two high schools, it would allow many more opportunities for our students."
Walker said, while some money would be saved through regionalization with Litchfield, that would not be the major consideration.
Both school districts are facing sharply declining student populations.
Enrollment projections find, by 2021-22, Region 6 will have 773 students region-wide, a decline of 216 students from this year.
Litchfield is projected to have 795 students in 2021-22, down 200 students from this year.
"We have said that we would support moving forward with a regionalization plan," said Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul Jr. "But we feel it is up to Region 6 to take action first.
"We are waiting to hear what (they) recommend."
Region 6 made the initial gesture to Litchfield in May 2013.
Paul said Litchfield believes there would be "cost savings and educational improvements" that could occur through merging. Once he learns Region 6's position, Paul said he would reach out to first selectmen in its three towns, he said.
A joint study would have to occur and the regionalization proposal put before voters, he said.
There were four options for merger proposed by Jonathan Costa of The Education Connection, who facilitated the Region 6 Enrollment Task Force study.
They range from closing two elementary school and redistributing elementary students to three buildings to closing all five elementary schools and configuring grades K-6 at Litchfield High School and grades 7-12 at Wamogo.
Ten-year hypothetical savings range from $13.6 million to $27.1 million, depending on the option chosen.