Merrill has been a statewide leader on education and early childhood issues for over a decade. He lead efforts in New Britain to double the number of children attending preschool and wrote New Britain’s application to join the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Out of that process grew New Britain’s nationally recognized work to reduce chronic absence and stop summer learning loss. Last year New Britain won an All American City award for its work in those areas.
He got his start in local politics when he organized parents against school budget cuts that threatened the loss of two teachers from his daughter’s elementary school. Merrill was one of the first parents to join the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding and was a plaintiff in the CCJEF vs. Rell law suit that seeks to remake the state’s educational cost sharing system that currently shorts New Britain $30 million per year.
For the past 4 years Merrill has served as the executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. In that role he led the effort to create Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood as a cabinet level agency combining functions from five other departments.
Merrill has served on the New Britain Board of Education since 2014. As a board member he has worked to: Revamp the district’s special ed preschool program; Bring play-based learning back into kindergarten; Revamp the health curriculum; and he has been a strong supporter of the specialized health and finance academies at New Britain High School. Both of his two children Vivian and Greg are graduates of New Britain High School.
Merrill is an avid cyclist and was one of 36 velomobile riders to complete the Roll Over America in 2011. This month long ride from Portland OR to Washington DC averaged 125 miles per day. He can frequently be seen riding through town in his bright yellow, aerodynamic velomobile emblazoned with the words “We Vote For Kids.”