Proposed School Budget for Essex, Chester and Deep River Calls for a 2.87% Increase over 2019-20

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ESSEX/CHESTER/DEEP RIVER — At $21.1 million, the revised proposal for the Region 4 Board of Education budget includes a 2.87 percent increase over the 2019-20 fiscal year.  In a public hearing and special meeting of the Board of Education held on Wednesday via Google Meet, Superintendent Brian White said the proposed $21,153,741 budget, which represents an increase of $591,066 over the previous year, was the result of work done in a series of budget workshops held from Jan. 21 to March 4.  “That is the budget that is before the board for consideration and that is a result of the

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Learn from Home Task Force Takes on Equity and Coronavirus for Distance Schooling

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More than 185,000 book packages and 60,000 laptops will be purchased and distributed to students in the state’s 33 lowest performing school districts by the Governor’s COVID-19 Learn from Home Task force in an effort to bridge the widening achievement and equity gap during the extended school closures. “Few things are more important to Governor Lamont than a fair and equitable response to remote learning,” said Nick Simmons, the manager of strategic initiatives for the Governor’s office. “It’s no secret that we have a very wide achievement gap that could get wider by six months away from school. There are

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With Newfound Flexibility and Instructions to Proceed “Immediately,” Connecticut Schools Grapple With Transition to Online Education

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With the requirement for 180 days of school instruction waived, and an application pending to suspend mandated student assessments, school districts across Connecticut are grappling with what it means for 77,000 students with an individualized education plan, and how they will follow instructions from the state to “immediately proceed” with online education. “We are focusing all of our energy and efforts on supporting students and their families during this national emergency, including students with disabilities,” said Miguel Cardona, commissioner of education for the state of Connecticut. “Keeping students’ health and safety at the forefront, [Connecticut State Department of Education] is

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About That Distance Learning… Local School Officials Debate Legal and Technical Obstacles for Connecticut Schools

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LYME/OLD LYME — With schools in the state closed for a minimum of two weeks in a state-mandated effort to slow the spread of Coronavirus, school officials are looking into the option of establishing distance learning curricula, a first for public schools in the state. “The state has rapidly changed their position on distance learning,” said Lyme-Old Lyme Superintendent Ian Neviaser, in a video-streamed special board of education meeting on Monday night. “On Friday they were discouraging it, but now they are looking at ways to make it available to every school and every district.” In fact, although the special

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Declining Populations, Enrollments, Call into Question Viability of Elementary Schools in Essex, Chester and Deep River

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The proposed Deep River Elementary School budget jumps by 5.08 percent this year compared with just 3.28 percent for Essex and 2.01 percent for Chester. The increase for all three towns is driven primarily by the 5.5 to 8.5 percent increase in employee benefits, in particular the long-underfunded health insurance reserve. Re-negotiated union salaries and a town energy efficiency project loan are also contributing factors in the budget growth. Yet, despite this large increase, Deep River’s $5.53 million budget brings the projected cost per pupil to $23,538 — that’s more than $3,000 less per pupil than Chester’s projected cost. Essex,

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Letter: Phrase “Wrong Side of the Achievement Gap” Sends Wrong Message

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Unfortunately, the debate between opponents and proponents of the CSUS consolidation plan resulted in the use of language that paid homage to a very traditional genuflection to ‘blame the victims.’   In this instance, the victims are the students in the CSCU system who were referred to as having come from the ‘wrong side of the achievement gap’ in the article, “As Labor Leaders Gather on Friday in Hartford, Faculty and Administrators Debate Consolidation of Community Colleges Across Connecticut,”  published March 6, 2020.  The value-laden and scornful phrase, “wrong side of the achievement gap,” sends the wrong message.  As a

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As Labor Leaders Gather on Friday in Hartford, Faculty and Administrators Debate Consolidation of Community Colleges Across Connecticut

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In the hopes of improving student outcomes and reducing costs for state taxpayers, Connecticut’s twelve community colleges are expected to be consolidated into a single accredited institution in 2023. “Students First will help improve the success rate of our community college students which is not good at all right now, the lowest in New England actually,” said Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. “It will address the equity gap that exists and thirdly put our community colleges on a sustainable financial path for the future.” According to Leigh Appleby, director of communications for the school

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Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education Approves Sustainability Committee For Local Schools

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LYME/OLDLYME — After two years of attending meetings, Karen Taylor’s call for a focus on environmental protection has been heard, and a Sustainability Committee was approved by the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education. “It feels so good, I truly feel listened to and heard,” said Taylor who has two children in the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools and works as a substitute teacher. “I really think this committee will allow us to coordinate efforts and make progress toward recycling and reducing waste in the schools.” The committee will advise the Board of Education and include 15 members drawn from teachers, Board of

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Board of Education Debates Funding, Equity, of Cooperatives, School Sports

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ESSEX/DEEP RIVER/CHESTER — Region 4’s Board of Education debated sharp disparities in budgeting for regional cooperative school sports at a Monday night meeting In one instance, members of the boys and girls hockey team pay $900 and $1,100 each, while athletes in 28 other sports offered by Valley Regional High School don’t pay to participate. “We have a responsibility to make sure it is equitable and correct this,” said Rick Daniels, a board of education member and Deep River resident. The boys co-op with East Haven began in 2018 and the girls’ program began this year with Daniel Hand High

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After Essex, Deep River and Chester Selectmen Set 3 Percent Cap, School Board Debates Budget Choices

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The proposed Region 4 Board of Education budget includes a 2.47 percent increase compared with last year’s budget, but after Wednesday night’s meeting, that number is likely to increase to 3 percent. That would bring the total budget for 2020-2021 to between $21.1 and $21.2 million. “The process this year was making up for the gaps, we wanted to provide for the programs, but also make sure we covered what has been missed in years past,” said Superintendent Brian White. “In the future, we want this discussion to be more value-based, but right now we are working with what the

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