CAPSS wishes to thank all those who have taken up the fight against Covid-19 recognizing its impact on schools, students, staff, and families. We are also grateful that:
A. The Connecticut General Assembly and Governor took several steps in the right direction by:
- Adding more funds to ECS than planned, refocusing on the additional costs of English Language Learners and the concentration of poverty, adding a hold harmless to the grants for two years, and prohibiting mid-year rescissions of ECS grants; (See Recs. 1, 2 & 3)
- Establishing a new Center for Literacy Research within the CSDE, and improving reading instruction using dedicated federal funds; (See Recs. 12 & 13)
- Requiring a major study of Special Education; (See Rec. 30)
- Requiring a statewide improvement to virtual learning with analysis and recommendations to address all aspects of remote learning; (See Rec. 11)
- Increasing State funding to towns for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (Pilot) program and incorporating education grant formula components in the distribution; (See Rec. 18)
- Embracing minority teacher preparation programs in Alliance districts and requiring further study of preservice assessments; (See Rec. 10)
- Supporting the Connecticut State Department of Education’s new K-12 curriculum guides in all subject areas, which will significantly improve the quality of teaching and learning in every school district; (See Rec. 13)
- Authorizing $1Billion in the biennium for the state share of school construction; (See Rec. 5)
- Improving the long-term financial viability of the Teachers Retirement System including the contribution of excess state surplus funds; (See Rec. 20)
- Creating State and regional support and assistance strategies for social emotional learning and school climate, and encouraging private philanthropy to assist — particularly with disengaged youth and wrap-around social services. (See Recs. 14 & 15)
B. Local districts, as a result of the pandemic, have undertaken several shifts from traditional schooling to new ways of operating including:
1. Developing new and creative ways to communicate and partner with families and students;
2. Accelerating learning for all students and particularly for those with the greatest needs;
3. Significantly improving virtual learning;
4. Deeply focusing on social/emotional health and growth of students and staff;
5. Increasing collaboration among districts to solve problems and improve protocols and procedures;
6. Ensuring that the voices of school district leaders are heard in state and federal decision-making.
C. The Federal Government, thankfully, has allocated significant ($1B) (one-time) funds in three installments to be spent by school districts through 2024 with the intent to supplement local and state funds and address the learning losses of 2020. In addition, federal funds for early childhood and local governments (nearly $2B) have been provided.
Steps must be taken to alleviate the loss of federal dollars at the end of 2024. To sustain recent successful initiatives this “cliff” can be minimized by adding smaller amounts of State and local funds in each of the next three years.
Throughout the last two years, public officials, education leaders, and especially teachers have demonstrated a caring, thoughtful and successful response to the pandemic. Looking forward, all of us must commit to making equity and student success our priorities. The future of our communities, State and country are at stake and dependent upon how well we invest in our public schools.