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

Legislators Debate Two Alternatives for Funding Connecticut’s ‘Choice’ Schools

So you have a child who loves insects, airplanes and playing with a toy doctor’s kit. You want to send her to a science-focused magnet school in New London, but you live in Montville.  The way it works today, the state will provide some funding to the magnet school to support your child’s education, but it will also send a portion of the funding to schools in Montville. In 2021, the district of Montville would receive $5,659 — the per-pupil grant determined by the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula — and the magnet school would receive between $3,060 and $8,050

More

Legislators Aim to Bridge Connecticut’s Gap on Dyslexia

After four previous attempts by the legislature to improve Connecticut’s approach to identifying and educating children with dyslexia, the state’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee is proposing a new bill to ensure that teachers are sufficiently trained to handle students with dyslexia. Despite peer-review research suggesting that between 5 and 10 percent of the population has dyslexia, just 2,294 students across Connecticut were identified with dyslexia in the 2018-19 school year. That number amounts to well under one percent of the student population. In Connecticut, of students identified with a specific learning disability, less than one percent have also

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

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

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

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

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

State Lawmakers Push to Use New Gambling Revenues for Student Tuition Aid

In a press conference on Friday morning, a group of state legislators called for legislation that would help fund the Pledge to Advance Connecticut, or PACT, the state’s program to ensure students across the state can attend community college without incurring debt.  The Board of Regents for Higher Education voted in December to spend $3 million in reserves to fund PACT through the spring semester, but warned that without a permanent funding stream, the program was in jeopardy. The lawmakers said that the passage of the gaming bill, which is currently being drafted by the Public Safety and Security Committee,

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

A Plan to Pay Student Loans of Connecticut College Grads Who Stay in State

Helping college graduates repay their student loans could be an answer to slowing the loss of population from Connecticut and to increasing the state’s tax revenue, according to State Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, ranking member on the legislature’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee . “We’ve continually invested in the brick and mortar of our state institutions, it’s time we support the brains and bodies of the people that are utilizing the buildings,” Witkos said in an interview with CT Examiner. The legislation, called “Learn-Work-Pay,” would help any Connecticut resident who attends one of the state’s public universities and then

More

Practice for High School Winter Sports to Resume January 19

The Connecticut Inter Athletic Conference has approved the beginning of practices on Jan. 19, and games on Feb. 8, for high school winter sports, according to a report released today. Sports that are classified as “high risk” — competitive cheerleading, dance and wrestling — will not hold competitions. They will be limited to small group conditioning and non-contact skill building.  “Moderate-risk sports” — basketball, ice hockey, and gymnastics — will be allowed to compete, but athletes must wear face masks at all times, including in competition. Basketball and ice hockey will have mask breaks built into competitions. Swimming, which is

More

As Applications for College Aid Drop 9.4 Percent, Connecticut Solicits Local Initiatives

For high school seniors dealing with the fallout of a pandemic, college financial aid applications sometimes end up on the backburner. “Getting into that whole college mindset is a little bit difficult this year,” said Laura Sangster, a counselor at New London Multi-Magnet High School. “A lot of students, their reality changed with COVID.”  It’s not just New London, and it’s not just Connecticut. National data shows that the number of completed FAFSAs, or Federal Applications for Free Student Aid, are down 11.4 percent as of January 1 in comparison to January of the previous year. As of the first

More

ECSU Video Series Proves a Lifeline for Educators During the Pandemic

With nearly 900,000 views over the last year, an online video series from Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education has become a lifeline for instructors in the field whose students no longer have the opportunity to practice teaching skills in a classroom.  “I and so many others would not have been successful in a remote learning environment without these videos,” wrote Carol LaLiberte, the early childhood education coordinator at Asnuntuck Community College, in an email to the center’s director, Julia DeLapp.  “I used them before the pandemic but they were literally the difference between not being able to

More

Epidemiologists See Little Evidence of Classroom Spread of COVID in Connecticut

The Connecticut Examiner analyzed data from the state Department of Education that found that students in Connecticut are nearly as likely to report testing positive for COVID-19 if they study remotely, in person or in a hybrid model.  According to epidemiologists and experts in the state, that data tracks with the lessons they’ve learned over the fall semester, as students have returned to the classroom in some regions and stayed home in others.  Dr. Pedro Mendes, director of the UConn Center for Quantitative Medicine, built a model at the beginning of the pandemic to forecast PPE needs at UConn Health.

More

Data Suggest Little Difference in COVID Rates Between Remote, In-Person and Hybrid Instruction

/

According to Department of Education data, public school students in Connecticut are nearly as likely to test positive for COVID-19 if they study remotely, as students learning in person or in a hybrid model. In-person students made up for 29 percent of total students across the state as well as 29 percent of reported student cases, meaning they did not make up for a disproportionate number of confirmed COVID-19 infections. The state has reported just over 7,000 positive cases among students since the start of the school year.  Students in hybrid learning models were slightly more likely to report COVID-19

More

Faculty, Board of Regents Stake Out Vast Differences on Collective Bargaining Agreement

The Board of Regents has proposed changes that, according union officials representing the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities faculty, would increase course loads, curtail academic freedom and limit faculty participation in the operations of the colleges.  “I was pretty disappointed that the Board of Regents is taking such a harsh approach, given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” said Patricia O’Neill, president of the Connecticut State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors.  O’Neill said that many union members were angry about the board’s proposals.  “We felt it was important to stand up and make a

More

Courtney Sponsors Bill to Aid Districts with Tribal Lands and Military Bases

//

A federal bill introduced by Congressman Joe Courtney to protect education funding for districts like Groton and Ledyard with children living on tribal lands and military bases was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 4. “This is a big deal for us,” said Michael Graner, superintendent of Groton school district. “Groton has about 1000 military-dependent children who live in military housing, and because their parents don’t pay property taxes on their military housing, the town misses out on that revenue.” The bipartisan “Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act” will allow school districts to receive the same federal Impact

More

Union Leaders Question Safety and Equity of Schooling as COVID Surges in Connecticut

HARTFORD — As COVID-19 infections surge across Connecticut, union leaders went to Hartford to present a petition calling on the governor to shift all schools to remote learning absent stronger safety precautions.  The petition, signed by nearly 14,000 educators, school employees, and community members, is an “unfortunate last resort,” said Mary Yordon, president of the Norwalk Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1727 and Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut.  In a press conference at the State Capitol on Thursday morning, leaders of the Board of Education Union Coalition urged the state to establish statewide safety protocols and

More

Teachers’ Unions Press as State Resists Move Away from Classrooms

As teachers’ unions call for public schools across Connecticut to transition to remote learning amid rising cases of COVID-19, state leaders maintain that in-person learning remains the best option for students and that the choice of learning formats is a decision best left to local leaders. The Board of Education Coalition – a coalition of unions representing teachers and school employees in Connecticut – released a report on Monday calling for remote learning during the holidays unless the state strengthens guidelines for reporting cases of COVID-19 in schools. In his Monday afternoon briefing, Gov. Ned Lamont said schools have done

More

Region 4 Walks Back Request for King to Resign

A joint statement released on Monday by Valley Regional High football coach Tim King and Superintendent Brian White announced that the school district was withdrawing its request for King to resign. “We both understand and accept that as educators and professionals we have a special responsibility to our students, staff and community during a pandemic and that we must place safety above all else. It is in this spirit that the request for Coach King to resign from the position of head football coach has been rescinded,” read the statement. Community members have been in an uproar since White requested

More

Program Sends College Students to Public Schools to Relieve COVID Absences

Central Connecticut State University has agreed to send education majors to work in Connecticut’s K-12 public schools as a means of relieving pressure on districts experiencing COVID-related staffing shortages.  The partnership between the state’s public university and its public schools has been facilitated by the Office of the Governor through a project called Next Generation Ed.  The program is open to sophomores and juniors enrolled in the university’s early education program. Designed as a clinical placement, students will be assigned to their schools for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. They will be able to lead small group discussions,

More

All Winter Sports Postponed Until January 19

The Connecticut Interstate Athletic Conference today decided to postpone the start dates of all winter sports until January 19, 2021.  This decision was very different from the conference’s initial proposal, which would have prohibited all high-risk sports but allowed some medium-risk sports, such as girls and boys basketball and boys swimming, to begin practices as early as December 5 and competitions as early as December 17.  Glenn Lungarini, executive director of the CIAC, which has 186 member schools, said that the board made this decision in light of the fact that more and more schools are moving to distance learning

More
1 2 3 5