When Connecticut magazine last ranked Connecticut’s towns and cities on their quality of life, Newtown placed fourth overall among 26 communities with between 25,000 and 50,000 residents. Breaking down the individual categories in the rating, Newtown placed first with the lowest crime rate, third in the vibrancy of its economy, and sixth in the quality of education, in data compiled for the 2011 rating.
The top eight communities were Westport, Farmington, Glastonbury, Newtown, Cheshire, Wallingford, Mansfield and New Milford. The categories included were education, crime, economy, cost, and leisure.
The crime category is based on major crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor-vehicle theft) committed in 2007, 2008 and 2009 per 1,000 population, using figures available from the state Department of Public Safety. The education category combines five elements: the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Mastery Test results for 4th, 6th and 7th grades; results of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT); local SAT scores for 2008, 2009 and 2010, and the percentage of 2010 public high school graduates who went on to two- or four-year colleges. Test scores were weighted more heavily.
The strength of the local economy was determined by the 2011 Public Investment Community score, compiled by the Office of Policy and Management, which rates all Connecticut towns under a formula based on population, per capita income, the adjusted equalized grand list per capita, the unemployment rate, the equalized mill rate and per capita aid to children.
Newtown was in the middle of the pack in leisure/culture, placing 13th, and among the lowest in cost of living, placing 25th out of 26 communities evaluated. The cost of living category weighs most heavily the median price of a single-family house purchased in the first six months of 2011. Leisure includes local library expenditures per capita in 2010, the number of theaters, museums, festivals, concert venues, historic sites, colleges and universities, golf courses, local newspapers, radio stations, state parks and forests, voter turnout in the 2008 election and good local restaurants.