Connecticut Plans Statewide Online School For K-12

Virtual classrooms may become a permanent fixture in the state of Connecticut.  New legislation tasks the state’s Department of Education to develop plans for a K-12 statewide remote learning school that would use the same curriculum and have the same school year length as a traditional school, but would be under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education. Peter Yazbak, director of communications for the Department of Education, said that state officials still need to work out the specifics of how the school would be funded and which students would be eligible.  A proposal should be sent to legislators

More

A Minor Tweak that Doubles Funding for Some Regional Schools

/

A minor tweak in Connecticut’s funding formula for school districts will more than double the amount that Lyme-Old Lyme schools receive from the state over the next two years.  In 2021, Lyme received $60,216 and Old Lyme received $238,583. According to projections from the School and State Finance Project, Old Lyme’s state funding will increase to $370,531 in 2022 and $502,478 in 2023. Lyme’s will increase to $89,603 in 2022 and $118,989 in 2023.  The increase is a result of a “regional bonus” that gives regional school districts $100 for every student enrolled in a regional school. A previous bonus

More

Wave of Teaching Hires Challenges Connecticut’s Job Market

Madison is hiring two new teachers for the fall. East Lyme needs two kindergarten teachers, two second grade teachers, a social worker and six paraeducators. Stonington plans to hire at least 20 teachers, tutors and interventionists. Region 4 and Guilford are hiring permanent substitutes. Old Saybrook is hiring temporary therapists, social workers and psychologists through outside agencies. Norwich schools are hiring 15 specialists, 35 summer school teachers and 14 paraeducators. But there’s a catch — many of these positions may last just one or two years.  The federal government has sent a wave of funding to local schools across the

More

Westbrook Schools Field Ideas for Federal Funding, Electives, ‘Wellness Rooms’

/

WESTBROOK — How should local schools spend $700,000 of federal grant money? Local residents have plenty of ideas, starting with air conditioning. According to school Superintendent Kristina Martineau, many of the 100 people responding to her request for feedback on spending the federal aid asked whether the money could be spent on air conditioning installation and HVAC improvements in the three school buildings. Martineau spoke to the Board of Education on Tuesday. While that was the most common request, Martineau said it certainly wasn’t the only one. Outdoor classrooms were also a popular suggestion. Others wanted to fund specific activities,

More

Clinton Schools Await State Guidance on Masks, Request Local Feedback on Spending

//

Clinton schools are looking for public feedback on its reopening plan for the fall and how to use $1.7 million of federal dollars the town is expected to receive under the American Rescue Plan Act. Every school district in Connecticut must create a “safe return to in-person instruction” plan to access federal funding. The town’s current plan is to drop the remote learning option, but continue with masks and social distancing, in accordance with current state guidelines.  At a Board of Education meeting on Monday, superintendent of schools Maryann O’Donnell said that the plan is still dependent on state guidance.

More

Heat, Humidity, Masks Spur School Closures Across Connecticut

High temperatures and humidity led multiple Connecticut school districts, including Madison and Guilford, to call an early dismissal today. Superintendent Craig Cooke of Madison Public Schools said the decision to dismiss early in Madison probably would not have happened if the students did not have to wear masks.  “I think it’s more difficult certainly with the heat for students and staff in schools,” said Cooke. Currently, Madison has air conditioning at Daniel Hand High School, Brown Intermediate School and part of Polson Middle School. Neither of the two elementary school buildings are air conditioned. Cooke said they decided to dismiss

More

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Plan a Busy Summer of Upgrades, Future Sportsfield Lighting

LYME-OLD LYME — The local schools are planning a busy summer of upgrades to school buildings, with around a dozen projects slated for construction through the summer and early fall.  The projects include upgrades to sound systems, the construction of two outdoor classrooms, renovations to the playgrounds, a bonded study for future building upgrades and beginning construction on the new synthetic turf field, which is scheduled to be finished in September.   “These are a lot of great improvements for the district,” said Lyme-Old Lyme district Superintendent Ian Neviaser at a board of education meeting on Wednesday.  Lights on the turf

More

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Drop Masks for the Fall

//

LYME-OLD LYME –The Lyme-Old Lyme School District has decided that it will not be requiring students to wear masks in the fall.  Superintendent Ian Neviaser said at a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday that this was part of a plan for in-person re-opening that the district would submit to the state by the end of the month. The plan is a requirement for districts in order to receive funds from the American Rescue Plan, the most recent — and largest —  grant allocations from the federal government.  Neviaser said that the district’s intention was to create a school year

More

Students Urge Committee to End Resource Officer Program in Middletown Schools

//

MIDDLETOWN — On Tuesday night, current students and recent graduates of Middletown High School voiced support for ending a program that places police officers in district schools. The public comment was part of a meeting of the Middletown School Resource Officer Exploratory Committee, which was formed in March to evaluate the role of officers in Middletown schools. The committee will advise the Board of Education on how to address the issue moving forward. The committee includes two board of education members, three school principals, two teachers, a social and emotional learning coordinator, four community members, three students, the youth service coordinator,

More

Lamont and Legislators Negotiate over Millions of Dollars of Educational Funding

Connecticut’s poorest school districts are anticipating millions of dollars of additional state funding directed toward creating a more equitable school system. It’s unclear how long they will have to wait. But the answer in part depends on the outcome of budget negotiations between the governor and the legislature over the next ten days. Gov. Ned Lamont has said that he would like to freeze funding increases to distressed school districts for two years — funding that was already negotiated — and use the money to balance the state budget. But legislative leaders say they want to continue to fund the

More

Legislature Delays Decision on Education Funding, Millions for Norwich and New London

HARTFORD — A proposal that would have sent millions of dollars to some public schools beginning next year through a change in state funding meant to further equity between Connecticut school districts has been postponed for further study.  It’s a proposal that would have given $6.2 million to Middletown, $9.4 million to New London and $9.7 million to Norwich next year alone according to the nonprofit School and State Finance Project. Proponents argued in a public hearing in March that this would bring needed dollars to the districts sooner rather than later.  “More than ever, communities require greater resources to

More

Madison Debates Four-part $85 Million School Project

/

MADISON — School Superintendent Craig Cooke presented plans for an $85 million building project for the school district that will go to the town in a referendum in late 2021 or early 2022.  The project includes four parts: constructing a new pre-kindergarten to fifth grade elementary school, closing Jeffrey and Ryerson Elementary Schools and the Town Campus Learning Center, converting Brown Intermediate School into a kindergarten to fifth grade school and renovating Polson Middle School. Completion of the project is aimed for 2025.  Cooke said in a presentation to the Board of Education on Tuesday night that the disctrict expected

More

More Joy — Less Catch-up — Experts Counsel Local Schools

Invest in joy — that’s the message experts in education want local school districts to embrace as they debate how to use millions of dollars in additional federal funding over the next three years.  Sandra Chafouleas, a professor at UConn’s Neag School of Education and co-director of the UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH), said that all schools need to make learning joyful and emphasize relationships, flexibility and a focus on the whole child.  Most importantly, Chafouleas said, schools needed to invest in building teacher-student relationships. She said that just one teacher could make an enormous difference in

More

Clinton School Plans Expansion of Special Education and Mental Health Services

/

CLINTON — The town is making plans to strengthen its mental health and special education services at the Morgan School in response to an increase in student need for support.  At a Board of Education meeting on Monday, Superintendent Maryann O’Donnell said that the partnership with the Wheeler Clinic, a community health center that also runs a program for school districts, would allow the district to strengthen the special services program they already offer at the high school rather than having to place students in programs outside the district.  “If we don’t take this step, there’s a likelihood that we’re

More

Trustees Name Agwunobi Interim UConn President

Current CEO of UConn Health Dr. Andrew Agwunobi has been chosen as the interim president of the University of Connecticut.  Agwunobi, who has been in his position at UConn Health since 2014, will replace former president Thomas Katsouleas, whose resignation was announced last week.  The Board of Trustees approved Agwunobi’s selection unanimously on Wednesday, making him the first president of color in the University’s history. He will begin his new role on July 1.  At a meeting on Wednesday, Board Chair Dan Toscano called Agwunobi “an absolute masterclass in leadership,” adding that he had increased revenues at UConn Health by

More

Eastern Connecticut ‘Dreamers’ Navigate Life After Graduation, and Politics of Immigration

/

Editor’s note: the subject of this story has requested anonymity as a condition for speaking on the record. His name has been changed to protect his identity. As a child, Patrick arrived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant. Without the chance to qualify for financial aid or most merit scholarships in his home state, he grew up knowing that attending college was likely impossible.  But everything changed in 2016 when he received a scholarship from TheDream.US, a private program that has provided scholarships to more than 3,000 students to attend one of more than 70 partnering colleges. “TheDream.US

More

Schools Across the Region Outline Varying Ideas for Spending Federal Dollars

//////////

School districts across southeastern Connecticut are in the process of drawing up plans for how they intend to spend millions of dollars of federal funding that will be available over the next two years. The money comes in the form of two anticipated grants, known as ESSER II and the American Rescue Plan.  The proposals include a variety of projects, from outdoor classrooms to bilingual therapists, summer enrichment and chromebooks.  Here is a rundown, district by district:  Lyme-Old Lyme Ian Neviaser, superintendent at Lyme-Old Lyme schools, said the district won’t be using the combined $1.48 million in federal aid for

More

Shoreline Schools Plan Language Learning Partnership

Several school districts along the shoreline are discussing a potential partnership to offer world languages courses in a remote learning form to students across the region.  Ian Neviaser, superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, said at a board of education meeting yesterday that the districts wanted to take advantage of the remote learning capabilities they had acquired through the pandemic and use it to offer remote classes to students throughout the region. “Obviously from everything you try to take a little bit away from it and learn from those experiences,” Neviaser said. “One of the things we think we can benefit

More

Budget Outlook Brightens for UConn as Plans for $70 Million Hockey Arena Advance

The University of Connecticut is directing $5.5 million of its operating funds toward paying for the construction of a new hockey arena. The decision comes in the context of cuts to the university’s athletic programs and an operating budget that remains $12.6 million in the red, but with a significantly brighter funding outlook for the university in the legislature. The total cost of the ice hockey arena is expected to reach $70 million — with the university contributing $17 million of that amount. Last June, the university cut the annual budget for athletics by $10 million — a 15 percent

More

Staffing a Concern for Connecticut’s Expanded Summer Enrichment Programs

Gov. Lamont announced $11 million in federal funding will be directed toward expanding summer enrichment and recreation programs for Connecticut students.   Summer enrichment providers will be able to apply for two types of grants to support their programming this summer. Expansion grants of up to $25,000 are geared towards local organizations to subsidize enrollment costs or expand the population of children they serve.  Regional or statewide organizations can apply for innovation grants of up to $250,000 to create new programming or implement programs on a broader scale. The state Department of Education anticipates that 25,000 students will benefit from the

More

Connecticut Schools Adopt a Variety of Approaches to Reopening

In the last two months, public schools in Waterford, East Lyme, and Stonington have transitioned from hybrid to in-person instruction — the result of vaccine availability, low COVID-19 case numbers, a reduction in social distancing requirements  and, in some cases, an outcry from parents who wanted to see a return to normal schooling.  These districts are not alone.  As of April 9, 72 percent of the school districts across Connecticut were operating in full in-person models, 25.4 percent were operating in hybrid and 2.5 percent were operating fully remotely, according to the state Department of Education. By comparison, in August

More

Districts Opt to Exclude Remote Learners from High School Prom

Almost every person who attended public high school has a story about prom: dress shopping, asking out a date, over-the-top photo shoots, after parties, the list goes on.  In 2020, just two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, no one was surprised when the big event was cancelled at almost every school in the state. But one year later, when most districts are able to host prom, students who have chosen to continue distance learning may still be left out. “I understand that the school wants to abide by COVID-19 guidelines, but it is completely unacceptable and unfair that distance learners

More

Connecticut Offers Grants to Schools for Emergency Communications

The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection has made $5 million available from a bonding bill passed in 2020 to fund communications systems that would  connect schools directly to local law enforcement agencies.  The eligible proposals could include a camera, radio, panic button or other device connected to the internet that is able to transmit notifications and messages to police departments or first responders, eliminating the need to call 911.  The goal of the grant, which provides $4.5 million for public schools and $500,000 for private schools, is to enhance communications networks between schools and police departments, which

More

Debating the Impact of Eliminating Connecticut’s Religious Exemption to Vaccination

/

On Wednesday, the legislature’s public health committee voted to send two identical bills, one to the House and one to the Senate, that would eliminate the ability of parents to claim a religious exemption to vaccinating their children. If the legislation becomes law, both public and private school students in Connecticut who are not vaccinated by the fall of 2022 will not be allowed to enroll or re-enroll in kindergarten through sixth grade classes. Jody Terranova, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and president-elect and immunization representative for the Connecticut chapter of the American

More

Local and State Efforts to Change Connecticut’s Public School Curriculum Inch Forward

If House Bill 6619 passes, Connecticut will have a new curriculum available by 2023 for public school students from kindergarten through 8th grade. The bill would combine several previously proposed bills that included LGBTQ+ studies and Native American studies, and would add Asian Pacific American studies, climate change, personal financial management and financial literacy, and military service and experience of American veterans. The legislation follows protests last year that in part called for substantial changes to school curricula, and a 2019 law requiring all public schools to offer Black and Latino Studies electives.  “Recent civil and political discourse has demonstrated

More

As State Schools Move Toward Merger, Faculty and Legislators Raise Tough Questions on Finances

Contentious contract negotiations, declining revenue and calls for legislative oversight continue to plague the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system even as federal funding provides some temporary budget relief.  Last month, the Board of Regents reported a deficit of $58 million shared between the system’s four state universities, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College — $22 million for the colleges and $36 million for the universities. The deficit was largely driven by a pandemic-related drop in enrollment. Meanwhile, the board is in ongoing and contentious negotiations with the faculty union to draw up a new contract. A number

More

Colchester Board of Ed plans to Eliminate School Resource Officer Position

COLCHESTER — The Board of Education approved a budget Tuesday evening that would eliminate the school resource officer position from local schools. If approved by the town, the position would be shifted to the police department.  Jeffrey Burt, superintendent of Colchester Public Schools, said the district had discontinued programs that the officer previously provided, including the DARE program, opting instead to teach the same information during health classes.  “We’re not seeing the full benefits of the position,” said Burt.   He said that the schools had received grants to increase building security and that district’s four schools were located within a

More

Without Delegation Support, Danbury’s $25 Million and Charter Schools in Doubt

DANBURY — A $25 million donation hangs in the balance if Danbury Prospect Charter School remains unfunded by state legislators for a third consecutive year.  In 2018, two Charter Schools — Danbury Prospect and Norwalk Excellence — were granted an initial certificate of approval by the Department of Education, but the schools cannot open until the legislature agrees to provide funding. In February, an anonymous donor pledged $25 million to the construction of Danbury Prospect contingent on annual funding from the state. So far, the chances don’t look good.  “Funding for the charter school was not included in Governor Lamont’s

More

Two Bills Raise Concerns about Funding for Connecticut’s Magnet Schools

New state legislation could result in a significant loss of funding for regional magnet schools by preventing them from charging tuition to the local school districts.  Two bills currently under consideration in the legislature – “An Act Addressing Education Funding and Racial Equity” and “An Act Concerning the Establishment of a Money-Follows-the-Child Approach to Funding Public Education,” would make charter, magnet, and vocational agriculture and tech program funding dependent on a state formula that is largely based on the number of high-need students in a district rather than the school’s operational costs.   Magnet school directors say that this has the

More

A Debate Over Charter Schools that Complicates Partisan Lines

If Senate Bill 949 passes, all taxpayer funded schools – public, charter, vocational and magnet – will receive no less than $11,525 in funding through a combination of state and local monies.  In other words, all publicly-funded schools would receive a “foundation amount” for the first time.  “Charter schools have never received the full foundation amount, we’ve gradually been bringing it up,” said State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, co-chair of the state Appropriations Committee. In total, almost 11,000 students attend charter schools, about 2 percent of the total student population, and this year each charter school received $11,250 per pupil. 

More
1 2 3 5