Stonington Prepares to Reopen Public Schools

STONINGTON — The Stonington Board of Education on Wednesday night asked Superintendent Van Riley to create a plan that would bring all grades back to in-person learning as soon as possible.  The plan comes in response to demands from parents that the schools reopen, despite teachers and paraeducators asking to remain in a hybrid model.  The key concern with returning in-person was the lack of space, which doesn’t allow students to maintain the six feet distance that the CDC recommends.  Yet according to a district-wide survey, about 60 percent of parents are asking for the district to return to in-person

More

Legislature Passes $137 Million Fix for PILOT with Bipartisan Support But No Funding as of Yet

A still unfunded plan to revise and increase state reimbursements to local governments for tax-exempt property, at an estimated cost of $137 million, received significant bipartisan support from Connecticut’s first selectmen and mayors before passing 125-24 in the House and 28-7 in the Senate.  The bill also included the elimination of welfare liens and provisions against double taxation for commuters Mayor Justin Elicker of New Haven said he was grateful that first selectmen and mayors from across the state — rural communities and urban ones, small and large, Democratic and Republican — have come out in support of funding the

More

Clinton Reports Better than Expected Revenues, Smooth Transition for New Town Manager

CLINTON — It’s been a year since the town hired Karl Kilduff as town manager to oversee the municipal budget, and members of the town council say that they can already see the benefits of having a professional in charge of the town’s finances. “Having him in place has had a huge impact on the town,” said Chris Aniskovich, chair of the town council.  On Nov. 19, 2019, Clinton transitioned from a board of selectmen form of governance — with a first selectman as “town CEO”— to an appointed town manager overseen by a seven-member elected town council. Aniskovich said

More

Legislation and Lawsuit Take Aim At Solitary Confinement in Connecticut Prisons

Correction Officers say that they need tools like solitary confinement to maintain their control over inmates — and there are cases where Kevnesha Boyd agrees this is true — but only, she says, because the culture of the state’s Department of Correction emphasizes the use of force over rehabilitation.  Boyd, a counselor who worked in the state’s Department of Correction for four years, says the things she witnessed handling intake at New Haven Correctional Center ultimately drove her to leave her job. “It started to eat me up, because it’s just like traumatic event after traumatic event,” she said.  Boyd,

More

After a Year of Protests a Debate About the Place of Police in Connecticut’s Schools

/

Since last summer’s protests against police brutality, school districts in Connecticut have been debating whether to continue the use of school resource officers.  Police officers say the benefits of the position include increased school safety and opportunities to form positive relationships within the community. However, some community members and officials argue that a police presence in the schools increases juvenile arrest rates and creates a military presence within the school system.  “It doesn’t send the right message to have a police officer with a gun in school,” said Curtis Goodwin, a New London city councilman and chair of the town’s

More

From East Lyme to Cambridge and Back, Ostfeld Promotes Sustainable Farming

EAST LYME — After studying geothermal and hydro energy in Iceland, palm oil in Borneo and climate change and renewable energy in Scotland, Rosemary Ostfeld, who holds a PhD in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge, decided that her next adventure would be to promote sustainable farming in her hometown. Three years ago, after returning to East Lyme, where she worked at White Gate Farm during her first summer out of college, Ostfeld launched Healthy PlanEat, a start-up connecting local farmers with consumers.  “The most powerful thing that you can do to actually have a positive impact on the

More

Two Mass Clinics to Open for Vaccinations of Educators and Childcare Workers in Southeast Connecticut

Two mass vaccine clinics will soon be operating for educators and childcare providers in southeastern Connecticut, through a partnership between the local health districts, the tribal nations and the hospitals.  School district employees in the Uncas Health District will be able to receive vaccines through a clinic operated by Yale-New Haven Health at Mohegan Sun. Local residents in the Ledge Light Health District will be vaccinated at a new clinic being run at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in partnership with Hartford HealthCare.  Ledge Light Director Steve Mansfield said his organization hadn’t yet determined how they would be prioritizing districts,

More

Target Dates Announced for Vaccinations; Provisions for School Employees and ‘Vulnerable Communities’

The next phases of eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine will be based on age — but with school employees and childcare workers given special priority and efforts made to reach “vulnerable communities” — according to the Office of the Governor. Gov. Ned Lamont announced today that individuals between the age of 55 and 64 could begin to register for the vaccine on March 1. People aged 45 to 54 will be able to register beginning on March 22, those aged 35 to 44 beginning on April 12, and all remaining individuals will be able to register starting on May 3. 

More

Bill to Allow Medical Assistants to Perform Vaccinations Draws Mixed Response

A bill that would allow medical assistants to perform vaccinations has received a mixed response, with physicians hoping that the provision will lighten their workload and nurses questioning whether medical assistants are qualified to perform the task.  The legislature has considered the legislation a number of times over the past five years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has given the issue a new relevance, as private practices and physicians say that the demand for COVID-19 vaccinations has left them without adequate staffing to administer the shots.  Supporters of the bill include the Fairfield County Medical Association, the Community Medical Group and

More

CSCU Faculty Voice Accreditation Concerns in Negotiations with Board of Regents

A number of faculty and staff working for Connecticut State Colleges and Universities have voiced concerns that the Board of Regents’ contract proposals could threaten their schools’ continuing accreditation.  Dr. Theresa Marchant-Shapiro, an associate professor of political science at Southern Connecticut State University, who is also the co-manager for the university’s New England Commission of Higher Education accreditation, warned this week that the Board of Regents had deleted many provisions that she has used as evidence of meeting the standards for accreditation. Marchant-Shapiro claims that the Board of Regents’ most recent contract proposals are at odds with the commission’s standards

More

Old Saybrook Reports Healthy Finances, Growing Grand List Heading into 2022

OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s Board of Selectmen approved a $47,187,717 budget for fiscal year 2022, an increase of $167,292, or .36% over last year.  First Selectman Carl Fortuna said the town’s stable financial situation allowed Old Saybrook to project a slight decrease in the mill rate — from its current 20.05 to between 20.00 and 20.04. Last year, the mill rate increased from 19.75 to 20.05. Fortuna said this year is the second time in four years that the town has been able to lower the mill rate.  Fortuna said that in spite of the coronavirus, the town saw

More

Advocates of Prison Reform Aim to Overhaul State’s Solitary Confinement

The closure of Northern Correctional Facility in Somers, which Gov. Ned Lamont officially announced earlier this month, is a victory for prison reform activists that has taken years.  But for human rights lawyer Hope Metcalf and State Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, it’s only the beginning.  As executive director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale University, Metcalf has been working with a team of lawyers to represent the nonprofit Disability Rights Connecticut in a lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Correction alleging the “the persistent and deliberate abuse of people with mental illness

More

Parties Split on Elections Legislation

The future of voting in Connecticut appears caught between two visions — Democrats who want to expand access to voting as much as possible, and Republicans who want to implement measures that would make voting more securely regulated.  State Sen. Will Haskell, D-Weston, said that since the November election, he gets a call at least once a day from a constituent asking why Connecticut doesn’t allow things like early voting or no-excuse absentee ballots.  “People really appreciated the ability to vote from the comfort and safety of their own home,” said Haskell. “Because of antiquated voting procedures, we are set

More

‘Conviction Integrity Unit’ Proposed to Investigate and Overturn Wrongful Convictions

In what the administration calls an effort to strengthen public confidence in the criminal justice system, Gov. Ned Lamont has set aside funding, in his budget announced on Wednesday, to establish a specialized unit to investigate and overturn potential wrongful convictions. The Governor’s budget directs $363,382 to fund a paralegal, a prosecutor and a police inspector who would make up a “Conviction Integrity Unit” to be run out of the State’s Attorney’s Office.  The program would join 79 other units like this across the country, six of them on a state level, that have together exonerated 151 people.  Chief State’s

More

Budget Proposal Relies on $440 Million in Federal Funding and Freeze to Cost Sharing Formulas

/

In a move criticized by both Democratic and Republican leaders, the budget proposed on Wednesday by Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget would postpone a total of $96 million of promised funding increases to school districts over the next two years. Instead, the school districts would be expected to rely on $440 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to provide for their needs over that time. Melissa McCaw, secretary of the Office of Policy Management, said the funds originally designated for Educational Cost Sharing increases — $32 million for 2022 and $64 million for 2023 — would be directed instead toward closing a

More

More than 450 Testify on a ‘Public Option’ for Health Insurance in Connecticut

More than 450 individuals and organizations submitted written testimony in a public hearing debating the merits of having a widely available state-sponsored health insurance plan — otherwise known as a public option — in Connecticut.  The proposed bill would make the health insurance plan currently reserved for state employees available to small business owners, in an effort to allow them to provide their employees with health insurance at a lower cost.   Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo said that the plan would help small business owners by taking away the incentive for employees to leave for larger companies who could offer

More

CSCU Administrative Budgets Out of Sync with Education Priorities Legislators Warn

A bipartisan group of legislators are calling for additional oversight of the Connecticut State College and University system out of concern that excessive administrative costs during the anticipated merger of the system’s 12 community colleges come at the expense of funding the degree programs and essential student services. Even as decreased enrollment during the COVID pandemic has ballooned into a projected $69 million budget deficit for the colleges and universities, the system’s Board of Regents has set aside an extra $10.4 million to fund 88 administrative positions for the anticipated merger into a single Connecticut State Community College.  The additional

More

Connecticut’s Cities Press to Recoup Tax-Exempt Revenue

New Haven is facing a $41 million budget deficit in the coming year, said Mayor Justin Elicker, but with  sixty percent of the city’s property non-taxable, the city will be hard-pressed to balance its budget. New London Mayor Mike Passero said that even with the state’s PILOT program, his city loses about $30 million each year in tax revenue from tax-exempt property. In theory, PILOT, the state’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, should reimburse towns for 77 percent of the taxes for property occupied by nonprofit organizations, but in reality, most cities across Connecticut receive a far lower percentage

More

Legislature Debates Tax Changes Aimed at Wealthy as State Plans for Life after COVID

A new legislative package carving out a fundamental change in the state’s tax structure is raising questions about where Connecticut’s budget priorities should be directed, as legislators of both parties debate budget priorities, caps and aid, as the state prepares to emerge from the pandemic. The bill proposes a number of initiatives aimed at increasing taxes on the wealthy and using that money to fund social programs and one-time payments of $500 to individuals who lost their jobs during the pandemic.  Charles Du, policy director with the New England Health Care Employees Union and one of the people involved with

More

Connecticut School Superintendents Budget and Hire for After the Pandemic

The academic and emotional effects of COVID on students are giving a new urgency to local school districts’ requests for increased staffing and student support. Social workers, tech support, expanded summer schooling and substitute teachers are on the list of budgeting priorities for the year 2021-22. While most of the districts said that these requests would have been made even without the virus, the fear of pandemic-driven gaps in learning and heightened mental health needs have added urgency to the requests, school officials say..   In an East Lyme Board of Education meeting on December 14, school Superintendent Jefferey Newton highlighted

More

Nutmeg Pharmacy Offers Community-Minded Approach to COVID Vaccinations

At the Essex Fire Station on Saturday, the staff of Nutmeg Pharmacy in Centerbrook stood in one of the bays around a table stocked with gloves, biohazard containers and syringes. By 9 a.m, people were driving their cars through the bay so that pharmacists could administer the vaccine. By 11:45 a.m., the supply was just about exhausted.  This was the first week that the independent pharmacy was able to obtain COVID vaccines from the state. Chris Olender, pharmacy manager at the Centerbrook location, said they had held three clinics so far — one in Moodus, one in Higganum and one

More

Looney Proposes a Tax Package to Fund Poorer Communities

A new proposal before the legislature would use taxes on high-value properties and capital gains to funnel more money to distressed municipalities.  State Sen. Pro Tem Martin Looney, D- New Haven, wants to fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, program through revenue from a 0.1 percent tax on commercial properties and residential properties with an assessed value of more than $300,000.  Under the PILOT program, municipalities receive back a percentage of taxes that would have been paid for properties that are tax-exempt, such as hospitals, colleges and properties owned by the state.  The program, however, has long

More

Police Commission Votes on Personnel Query

OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s Police Commission voted 6 to 1 on Monday night to ask Chief of Police Michael Spera to compile a public report on the number of officers who have left the police department in the past 11 years.  The request was in response to a Jan. 12 letter from the Old Saybrook Board of Selectmen requesting that Spera produce a document providing the sworn personnel who have left the department, the length of time they remained and the reasons they provided for leaving. The selectmen asked that the document include officers’ exit interviews and any other

More

Banking and Business Ties Key to Federal Aid Process For Minority-Owned Businesses

Despite the federal government’s efforts to give minority and women-owned businesses priority in the latest round of PPP funding, small businesses without established ties to banks are still being left out of the aid program.  The U.S. Small Business Association, the government agency responsible for distributing PPP loans, opened a third round of PPP funding in January that brought between $3 and $3.5 million to Connecticut. After receiving backlash for not reaching many businesses that arguably needed funding the most, the agency decided to adjust the loan application system to assist women-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses, as well as those

More

Marlborough State Rep. Proposes “Biz in a Box”

State Rep. Robin Green, R-Marlborough, wants to create a one-stop shop for first-time entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own business. Her bill, which she calls “Biz in a Box,” would connect potential small business owners with a mentor who can guide them through all the financial necessities and bureaucratic requirements that come with opening anything from a massage studio to a daycare center.  Green said that the idea came from her own experience starting a business. Twenty years ago, she said, she founded Discovery Zone Learning Center, a daycare center with three locations in Hartford County.    “When you

More

Religious Exemption Sparks Debate Over Process on the Public Health Committee

The legislature’s Public Health Committee today received a petition with 10,000 signatures asking that legislators postpone consideration of a bill that would remove the religious exemption for children’s immunizations until they are able to hold a public hearing in person.  In an email to State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, that was shared with Connecticut Examiner, Katherine Kraemer, a signatory of the petition, said that having a virtual hearing on this bill “produces many challenges that impede a public’s right of full engagement in a fair legislative process.”  Those concerns include poor internet connections, access for people who didn’t know how

More

Lamont Announces Phases for COVID Vaccinations

Gov. Ned Lamont announced today that phase 1B, which encompasses over 1.3 million Connecticut residents, would be broken down into a series of tiers that prioritizes the people who are at the highest risk of dying from the virus.  According to the timeline presented today at the governor’s press conference, individuals 75 and older continue to be first in line. The governor said he was expecting this group to have received their first doses within the next two weeks.   Lamont said that people over the age of 75 comprise eight percent of the population, but account for 71 percent of

More

Letter and Closed-door Discussion Spark Call for Closer Look at Police Claims

OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s police commission has decided not to take action on a complaint from a former sergeant in the Old Saybrook Police Department who requested in a letter that the commission investigate what he called a “toxic and hostile work environment.”  The commission voted 5-2 to not take action on the complaint, with commissioners Renee Shippee and Alfred Wilcox providing the dissenting votes. Officer William Bergantino, who authored the letter, began working at the Old Saybrook Police Department in 1997, and remained there for 23 years. In 2019, Bergantino moved to another department, taking a reduction in

More

After Fast Start, Connecticut Broadens Vaccinations with Uncertain Distribution

As phase 1B of the vaccine rollout is set to begin today, regional health officials have been voicing frustrations over the last week at the uncertainty surrounding the number of vaccines that they will receive on a weekly basis, a problem which they hope will stabilize as the state administers the vaccine to a much broader population. This phase includes 1.367 million people, according to a presentation given by Benjamin Bechtolsheim, the current director of the COVID-19 vaccination program, to the Governor’s Vaccine Advisory Group on Thursday. Included in Phase 1B are frontline essential workers, all individuals 64 and over,

More
1 2 3 5