House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) and state Rep. Timothy Larson (D-East Hartford), chairman of the bipartisan Commission on Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE), announced the formation of the MORE Special Education Select Working Group.
The group’s first meeting will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 in the Legislative Office Building and its mission will be to determine how to provide special education in a more effective manner. The group will be led by Co-chairs Rep. Brian Becker (D-West Hartford), Rep. Michelle Cook (D-Torrington) and Ranking Member Rep. Terri Wood (R-Darien).
Speaker Sharkey, who chaired MORE in 2010 while serving as House chairman of the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee, resurrected it in February. He praised the commission’s work, which has resulted in a set of new laws that encourage regional cooperation, and wants to expand MORE’s focus to special education.
“Special education is critical to providing educational opportunities for all students, and meeting that challenge will require increased support in the future for our towns from the state,” said Speaker Sharkey. “MORE is a great forum to help us get there by finding new ways to increase efficiencies and reduce costs.”
“Under Speaker Sharkey’s direction we have refocused the MORE Commission’s efforts regarding the cities and towns’ responsibilities for human infrastructure,” Larson said. “We need to explore a more effective way to deliver and pay for special educational needs in Connecticut and I am excited to have Reps. Becker, Cook and Wood actively involved in this very dynamic issue,” Larson added.
The new group focusing on special education will follow the form and function of the other MORE sub-committees and will bring together individuals from an array of perspectives and backgrounds. The group will consist of 20 to 25 members and meet several times a month.
The group will work to develop a legislative list of recommendations by May, after which it will continue to meet year-around. Most of the meetings will take place in the Legislative Office Building, and the work of the group will be tracked online at the MORE website http://www.housedems.ct.gov/MORE/index.asp.
Sharkey, a long-time proponent of regionalization as a way for cities and towns to save money and reduce property taxes, and Larson, a former mayor of East Hartford, believe it is critical for more inter-town cooperation to occur in order for municipalities to deal with growing budget challenges.