Residents of several Litchfield hill towns appear to have approved a plan to create a new school district.
Region 20 would merge Litchfield and the communities that make up Region 6: Goshen, Morris and Warren.
According to school superintendent Chris Leone, the results of Tuesday’s referendum are:
|Morris||YES – 283 (55%)|
|No – 228 (45%)|
|Gochen||YES – 500 (64%)|
|No – 283 (36%)|
|Warren||YES – 231 (61%)|
|No – 146 (39%)|
|Litchfield||YES – 1,378 (78%)|
|No – 392 (22%)|
“I think it’s a really good idea,” said Litchfield’s Don Murelli.
“After two difficult years that have been difficult for teachers and students, I really don’t think this is the time for another really big transition,” said Tiffany Parkhouse of Warren.
Pupils would go to a regional college at what is now Litchfield Middle and High. Region 20 High School would open at Wamogo Regional High School and the elementary schools would remain the same.
“I think it’s a good thing to merge two different cultures. It will encourage more diversity,” said Amanda Glover of Litchfield.
Proponents have been working on the plan for years amid declining enrollment, now at around 1,700 students for the districts combined.
They say the benefits include more class offerings, more athletic opportunities, a better social experience, and improved extracurricular activities.
“Pooling resources makes sense to me,” Warren’s Marty Carlson said.
Opponents have concerns including potential effects on students and teachers, questions about budgeting and how some communities could have less voice in the new system.
“This particular plan is flawed and I think we can do better. And so I can’t go along with their proposed plan to merge,” Parkhouse said.
The proposal details how each city would be represented on the new board, which requires at least one member from each city to approve an action.
There are also perhaps a few million dollars in savings compared to current budgets.
“I just think it’s going to save taxpayers a lot of money,” Litchfield’s Kyle Murphy said.
This new Region 20 already has state approval and now a two-year development plan begins with the goal of starting for the 2024 school year.
There is a slight reduction in staff which should be compensated mainly by retirements.