Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents
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Public Policy 2018 > Public Policy 2017 > House Bills > RB 7276 - An Act Concerning Education Mandate Relief

TESTIMONY ON RB 7276 AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATION MANDATE RELIEF

Joseph J. Cirasuolo, Ed.D.
Executive Director


 

The CT Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) which represents the superintendents of CT’s public school districts is pleased to see that the legislature is considering giving school districts some relief from the approximately 400 unfunded mandates under which CT’s school districts are forced to operate often at the expense of providing for the children served by the districts the educational program that could be provided for them if the mandate burden was relieved.  Accordingly, CAPSS does support a number of the components of RB 7276 AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATION MANDATE RELIEF.

Specifically CAPSS supports:

  • Providing flexibility for local school districts regarding the adoption of regional calendars
  • Providing flexibility for local school districts regarding the educational programs for expelled students.
  • Limiting the number of staff members for whom local school districts have to provide training regarding the physical restraint and seclusion of students and regarding how to prevent incidents that might require physical restraint or seclusion of students.
  • Limiting the number of staff members for the composition of school based crisis intervention team.
  • Removing the requirement that an administrator must participate in every Planning and Placement Team meeting.

CAPSS, HOWEVER, STRONGLY OPPOSES THE COMPONENT OF THE BILL THAT MAKES OPTIONAL THE HIRING OF A SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS BY BOARDS OF EDUCATION THAT SUPERVISE DISTRICTS THAT SERVE COMMUNITIES OF LESS THAN 10,000 RESIDENTS THAT SUPERVISE DISTRICTS THAT HAVE LESS THAN THREE SCHOOLS AND THAT HAVE STUDENT ENROLLMENTS THAT ARE LESS THAN 2,000.

 The reasons for the organization’s opposition are the following.

  • Under present statute, local boards of education in districts of any size already have the following options.
    • Hire a part time superintendent.  In sixteen of the school districts that have only one school, the boards have taken advantage of this option.  There are only three districts that have one school and a full time superintendent. Any one of those districts and any of other districts that have two schools and that meet the other criteria specified by the bill can also hire a part time superintendent.
    • Share a superintendent with other districts.  There are nine districts with only one school that share a superintendent with other districts and they do this via regional school district arrangements.  Any of the districts specified by the bill can afford themselves of this option and it can be exercised without forming a regional school district.  All that any two or more boards need to do is agree to hire the same individual to be the superintendent of all of the districts at the same time.
    • In a district that has only one school, hire the same person to be the principal of the school and the superintendent of the district as long as that individual is certified to be a superintendent of schools.   While experience in other states indicates that this is not an effective option, it can be exercised right now in CT.
  • It is difficult to understand, therefore, how the bill component can be advanced as an additional way to allow boards of education to save money unless the intent of the language is to allow boards of education to simply hire nobody to meet the responsibilities that superintendents meet every day.  Among those responsibilities are:
    • To work effectively with the Board, serving as the school Board’s chief executive officer and educational leader for the Board, district, and community.
    • To implement policies approved by the Board and recommend changes, if appropriate, and to develop, implement and inform the Board of administrative procedures necessary to implement Board policy.
    • To proactively identify and address potential barriers to the realization of the board’s vision for the school system
    • To respond to communications, as appropriate, and ensure the adherence and appropriate response through the chain of command, and to keep Board members informed about district issues in a timely manner.
    • To provide the Board with well-informed recommendations.
    • To facilitate effective, data-driven decision making.
    • To prepare, advocate for and implement the annual budget that addresses district goals and meets the needs of all students; and report regularly to the Board on the status of the budget and any concerns or other issues about which the Board should be informed
    • To oversee the organization and management of the district’s day-to-day operations.
    • To participate, as appropriate, in the annual self-evaluation of the Board, and assist with follow-up.
    • To work closely with the Board leadership to develop meeting agendas that include student achievement.
    • To, as pursuant to Board policy, hire personnel for the school district and ensure that each employee is properly supervised and evaluated; and to make recommendations for termination of employment.
    • To implement the Board-established professional staff evaluation process that is based on effective performance, in accordance with state statute.
    • To serve as a key, effective member of the Board/Superintendent leadership team and to lead the district staff to meet the district’s goal.
    • To communicate research information, performance results and educational needs to the Board for possible Board action
    • To ensure that actions of the entire district align to the district vision.

Meeting most of these responsibilities requires superintendents to establish and maintain relationships with all segments of the school community and of the community at large.  In effect, the superintendent in many ways becomes the bridge between those two communities a bridge without which the children of a community are ill-served. If there is no superintendent, there would be nobody who would develop those relationships and, therefore, would meet these and other responsibilities. 

Accordingly, no board of education that takes its responsibilities seriously would contemplate trying to be responsible for a school system without the services of a superintendent.

Given all of this, it may well be that whoever has developed this proposal has little if any understanding of what superintendents do and why what they do is valuable.  Accordingly, CAPSS is willing to do any and all of the following.

  • Schedule a meeting with superintendents for the purpose of providing an accurate description of the responsibilities being met by superintendents.
  • Provide a review of the relevant literature that describes research results that have established the link between superintendent effectiveness and student learning.
  • Provide an opportunity to actually shadow a superintendent for a few days for the purpose of observing first-hand what superintendents are expected to do.

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Connecticut Association of
Public School Superintendents

26 Caya Ave | West Hartford CT 06110-1186
Phone: 860.236.8640 | Fax 860.236.8628
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