1 | State Share
The State must spend considerably more to meet a goal that the State and towns will equally share K-12 spending.
2 | ECS Predictability
Prohibit the Governor from making mid-year changes to ECS. The General Assembly will have a May 1 deadline for setting ECS final grant awards for the year beginning next July 1st.
3 | ECS Improvements
In a fifteen-year plan, ECS will grow by about 2.5% annually. The Foundation will grow each year; annual ECS losses for 95 towns will be eliminated. There will be equity driven phase-in of distributions and hold harmless provisions when appropriate.
4 | Special Education
Support a two-year phase-in of Excess Cost grant full funding with State scrutiny of growing identification rates and rising costs. The Grant will be paid on a more timely basis with incentives to keep students in district/state.
5 | School Construction
Increase reimbursement (for most) to 10%-80% with stricter State project requirements; and address air conditioning and air quality in every school.
6 | Adult Education
Mandated services be transferred to RESCs; enrichment classes remain locally administered.
7 | English Language Learners
Require schools to develop plans for ELLs; significant new State funding will be phased in to help pay for programming. Greater use of technology required.
8 | Early Childhood
Adopt a goal of universal early childhood access for all underserved 3 and 4-year-olds with a first task of determining total level of need in each town. Strengthen the bonds of these early childhood programs with public kindergarten programs.
9 | Transportation
Reinstitute over two years a wealth-based reimbursement grant for towns with the greatest (%) public transportation costs.
EDUCATIONAL EQUITY, ACHIEVEMENT, AND INNOVATION
10 | Structural Racism
Directly address structural racism and other forms of discrimination within classrooms, schools and districts and adopt practices that promote diversity. Examine and act upon data on enrollment in higher level courses, Special Education identification rates, discipline patterns, retentions, graduation rates, board and school policies, with the goal of reducing/eliminating discriminatory practices toward students of color. Use new State funds for minority teacher recruitment, teacher training in and access to proven bias-free curriculum and materials.
Importantly, the State and Local governments should convene an advisory committee and agree to a ten-year effort to reduce structural racism.
11 | Virtual Learning
Rethink virtual learning by radically improving the technology, content, and the use of virtual learning. Assist teachers and families. Expect that some amount of virtual learning will always be needed going forward.
12 | Student Assessment
Seek federal waivers (if required) to drop the grades 4, 6, and 8 assessments; add State paid PSATs. Make statewide Smarter Balance/PSAT/SAT materials available at school and at home.
13 | SDE Leadership
State Department of Education must lead in advancing 21st century learning skills (such as collaboration, problem solving, and creativity), portrait of the graduate (with independent learning skills) with suggested, easily available, and aligned curricula and materials.
14 | Student Well Being
Provide new State aid for student safety, trauma, mental health and wellbeing, and improved networks of providers and services.
15 | Disengaged Youth
The State must support schools in their outreach to disengaged/disenfranchised youth aimed at high school completion and career pathway programs.
16 | Teacher Certification
Eliminate barriers to teacher certification (including a review and updating of legal and regulatory requirements), creating new regional preparation programs for teachers and leaders with a renewed focus on quality preservice (student teaching) experiences. Clarify current requirements for evaluation and professional development.
Improving intergovernmental matters
17 | Federal Funds
Coordinate an effort to require the federal Department of Education to meet its fiscal promises, such as financing at least 40% of CT’s $2 billion annual Special Education bill.
18 | Municipal Overburden
Merge, simplify, and financially hold harmless non-State aid to towns.
19 | State and Local Debt
Require an annual accounting of all State and Local debt along with plans to pay off these debts (capital, pension, and non-pension retirement benefit obligations).
20 | Teacher Retirement System (TRB)
Support continued changes that provide financial relief to the TRB, and consider the possibility of options for a choice of retirement plan for new hires.
21 | State Grant Elimination
Eliminate several small grants and re-purpose the funding to new School Improvement Grant.
22 | MER (MBR)
Reinstate a minimum expenditure requirement and faithfully execute its implementation.
23 | Regionalism
Encourage and provide funding to assist the Regional Educational Service Centers (RESCs) to facilitate the regionalization of services, especially for Students with Disabilities.
24 | Waivers
Adopt a process for the Department of Education to waive certain non-health/safety mandates for districts demonstrating high growth, high achievement, and gap closing.
Accountability for continuous improvement
25 | School Improvement Grant
With the merger of five mostly Priority and Alliance School District grants, (and the repurposing of several smaller grants), these funds will financially hold harmless approximately half of the Alliance Districts that currently benefit from the PSD grants, and expand to all of the Alliance Districts programs to improve student achievement. (Roughly 30 to 40 districts total)
26 | Governance
Clarify State laws and regulations about the roles/responsibilities of superintendents, and local boards of education, as well as the State Board of Education in the takeover process.
27 | Public School Choice
Financially maintain high quality schools of choice with possible matching of the ECS Foundation level; acknowledge and address the inequities and long-term funding problems of magnet schools with goal driven solutions.
28 | Measuring Success
Commit an annual report on progress reducing inequalities and disparities in expenditures, programs, and achievements.
29 | Health and Safety
Related to COVID-19, but also to potential future pandemics, require districts to conduct health and safety audits based on an SDE template and prepare comprehensive plans that show continuous readiness for future pandemics and other interruptions.
30 | More Research Needed
The State Department of Education should do extensive research on:
- the disparity in per pupil expenditures,
- the growth in special education, and
- the insufficiency of programs for English Learners.
School districts that are outliers in the statewide database should be asked to explain the conditions that cause them to be so far outside the average district.