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State Rep. Gail Lavielle Wants a Critical Look at Board of Regents Viability

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Board of Regents President Gregory Gray.

The Board of Regents for Higher Education has been mired in problems ever since it was set up four years ago to oversee many of the state's colleges. There have been secret raises, resignations with huge severance packages, and even a promotion given to an employee while he was in jail.

State Representative Gail Lavielle, a Republican representing Norwalk, Wilton, and Westport, is co-sponsoring a bill that seeks to dissolve the board completely.

It's a bold statement that she hopes will draw attention to the need for better oversight, even if it doesn't go anywhere. 

"You have to look at the big picture and see if this really is leading to more affordable, more accessible, better services, better education," Lavielle said.

Board of Regents President Gregory Gray was unavailable for comment.

Kyle Thomas is the board's legislative program manager, and said he understands concerns being raised, but was confident the board is on the right path.

"Only since Dr. Gray's arrival in the past year and a half have we begun to put a definite plan forward in terms of how we not only finish the process of consolidation, but how we craft a series of proposals that help us improve the services to students," Thomas said. 

Since 2011, the Board of Regents saved $6 million  in administrative fees and hired 100 teachers, and they've also offered a free class for students, according to Thomas. But Lavielle wants to know more. 

"It's not a question of blaming anyone for it," Lavielle said. "It's a confluence of different things. A lot ambiguity about whose mission is what, and who is supposed to be doing what, and how much money is actually being saved, and is this turning into a good thing for students."

Lavielle hopes the General Assembly will give the bill a hearing so people can learn more about how the Board of Regents is working, or not working, and what to do next. 

David finds and tells stories about education and learning for WNPR radio and its website. He also teaches journalism and media literacy to high school students, and he starts the year with the lesson: “Conflicts of interest: Real or perceived? Both matter.” He thinks he has a sense of humor, and he also finds writing in the third person awkward, but he does it anyway.

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