Legislators Begin to Weigh Session Education Agenda
Last night, the legislature's Black and Puerto Rican Caucus (BPRC), chaired by Senator Pat Billie Miller, held a public hearing to discuss Connecticut constituents’ concerns and ideas regarding pressing policy issues. Plenty of testimony covered the controversy over a charter school in Danbury—where the State Board of Education approved its opening in 2018, but year-after-year, the legislature has nevertheless opted not to fund it. Another prominent theme was the underfunding of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU). Several constituents testified that, while tuition costs at the CSCUs are going up, cuts to services will simultaneously impact the quality of the experience for students. (See an interesting story on cuts below.) To hear about these and other policy issues, watch the full hearing here.
Next week, on January 16th, the BPRC will host a second hearing, this time to seek input from legislators, advocates, agencies, and lobbyists. (See the flier at the end of this email.)
On Sunday, a story in the CT Examiner also unpacked the education agenda for Representative Jeff Currey, who co-Chairs the legislature’s Education Committee with Senator Doug McCrory. Rep. Currey discussed the importance of a 2023 overhaul of Connecticut's bullying statutes—designed to identify climate issues and the obstacles that students might face, particularly those in the LGBTQ community.
Looking forward, Rep. Currey talked about the immediate need to address the state's teacher shortage. Noting that the state has not looked deeply at the teacher certification process in thirty years, Rep. Currey expressed hope that the state's new Teacher Certification Council would "streamline the process to become a teacher while, at the same time, not watering down qualifications."
He also discussed schools of choice, reiterating that charters in Connecticut are public schools, but leaning into the concept that whether a new charter opens should be a local choice. The main obstacle to the growth of new charters in some communities has been the ideological objections of a local elected delegation, which do not necessarily represent the wishes and needs of community members.
CT State Colleges Deploy Retirement Incentive to Close Deficit
According to Keith Phaneuf's CT Mirror article on Friday, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) System is newly offering a retirement incentive program—in response to what chancellor Terrence Cheng called "daunting financial challenges." As Phaneuf explains, the CSCUs are facing a $140M shortfall next fiscal year.
According to coverage by Forbes, employees must be at least 60 years old, have been employed by the state for 10+ years, and be eligible for normal retirement—in order to qualify. While roughly 550 employees are eligible for the new retirement incentives, the gains to the CSCUs will depend upon both the rate of participation and the cost of refilling resultant vacancies.
Must-Read on Districts Considering Consolidation
Over the weekend, Jessika Harkay covered efforts in K-12 districts to address declines in enrollment and fiscal cliffs by weighing options like consolidation. The article describes friction between parents and districts. While the former are concerned with maintaining too many buildings as student enrollment declines, the latter worry about stability for their children.
For Partners in Advocacy, a Chance to Participate Before the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus