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BOSTON — Responding to concerns that the commonwealth needs to implement major education reforms, the state Joint Committee on Education announced it is going back to school.

Throughout the course of this fall, the committee is conducting 11 public hearings across the state to listen to local officials, school administrators, teachers and parents on the array of educational issues facing their communities.

While the hearings represent a broad geographic representation of the commonwealth, the committee was unable to schedule a hearing in every deserving district.

However, two hearings are being held in Central Massachusetts, which should provide north Central Massachusetts residents and officials with an ample opportunity to have their ideas and concerns heard.

The majority of the hearings will be sited at schools and will take place in the late afternoon and early evening to maximize participation.

The two hearings being held in Central Massachusetts are:

* Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 4:30 p.m., at the North Middlesex Regional High School auditorium in Townsend; and

* Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 4 p.m., at the Cafetorium within the Roosevelt Elementary School in Worcester.

The committee will be conducting a statewide “listening tour” to solicit the views of parents and other citizens, as well as educational and municipal leaders, regarding what should be the next steps in Massachusetts’ education reform into the 21st century.

“Clearly, different school districts around the state face a myriad of educational issues,” said Robert A. Antonioni, D-Leominster, the committee’s Senate chairman. “Regional hearings allow us the opportunity to engage these communities in discussions vital to our committee’s work in the coming months and the future of education in the commonwealth.”

House Chairman Patricia A. Haddad, D-Somerset, said, “This ‘tour’ will afford us a number of opportunities to have frank, face-to-face dialogue with the many education stakeholders throughout the commonwealth.”

In announcing the tour the two chairmen noted that many of their colleagues in the House and Senate had asked the committee to visit their cities and towns to listen to local concerns and priorities.

The specific details of the tour will reflect the widespread interest in its geographic balance. Each hearing will be hosted by members of the Legislature who have helped organize the events.

Antonioni encourages anyone who wishes to voice their ideas and concerns to participate at the hearings.

If anyone is unable to attend, call Sen. Robert Antonioni’s office at (617) 722-1230 to offer comments.

Written testimony or comments may also be sent to Sen. Robert A. Antonioni, Senate Chair of Education, Room 109E, State House, Boston, MA 02133.

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