Topic:
EDUCATION (GENERAL); LEGISLATION;
Location:
EDUCATIONAL LAW AND LEGISLATION;

OLR Research Report


EDUCATION

2008-R-0454

Soncia A. Coleman, Associate Legislative Analyst

July 31, 2008

NOTICE TO READERS

This report provides highlights of new laws affecting education enacted during the 2008 regular and special legislative sessions. Not all provisions of the acts are included here. Complete summaries of all 2008 public acts passed will be available when OLR's Public Act Summary book is published; most are already available on OLR's webpage: http://www.cga.ct.gov/olr/OLRPASums.asp

Readers are encouraged to obtain the full text of acts that interest them from the Connecticut State Library, the House Clerk's Office, or the General Assembly's website: http://www.cga.ct.gov.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CURRICULUM 5

High School Credit for Private World Language Courses
and for Other Subject Areas
5

Technology Pilot Program 5

Democracy Education 5

The Arts 5

Curriculum Committee 5

EARLY CHILDHOOD 5

School Readiness Distribution Formula, SDE Administrative
Set-Aside, and Per-Child Grant for FY 09
5

Accreditation of School Readiness Programs 6

Special Allocation for Certain Towns 6

Competitive Grants 6

EDUCATION COST SHARING AND FUNDING 6

ECS Phase-In Adjustment 6

Supplemental Priority School District Funds Distribution 7

ECS Minimum Budget Requirement 7

ECS Funds Transferred to SDE for Educational Improvement 7

HEALTH 8

School Based Health Clinics 8

Meningitis Information 8

CHARTER SCHOOLS 8

Asylum Hill Charter School Admissions 8

Records and Governing Council 8

OPEN CHOICE 9

Preschool Program Grants for Hartford Students 9

Academic Support Grants 9

MAGNET SCHOOLS 9

Direct Enrollment 9

Bloomfield Magnet School 10

Quinebaug Valley Community College 10

Magnet School Construction 10

Operating Grants 10

SHEFF V. O'NEILL 11

Resolution Approving the Settlement Agreement in Sheff V. O'Neill 11

Sheff Region 11

Sheff Magnet Grants 11

Operating Grants. 11

Operating Grant Approval 11

Per-Student Grants for RESC-Operated Sheff Magnets. 12

Academic Support and Summer School Grants. 12

Start-Up Grants. 12

Transportation Grants for Sheff Magnets 13

Charter School Start-Up Grants 13

Fund Transfers 13

Direct Enrollment in Sheff Magnets 13

Transportation to Vocational-Technical Schools and
Agricultural Science and Technology Education Centers
13

Sheff Magnet School Construction 14

VOCATIONAL-AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION 14

Agricultural Science and Technology Education 14

Agriculture Science and Technology Education
Enrollment Opportunities
14

SAFETY/DISCIPLINE 15

Bullying and Suspensions 15

Truancy 15

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION 15

STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION/SCHOOL DISTRICTS 16

Educational Interests of the State 16

Accountability 16

Vocational Technical Advisory Board 16

Educational Equity and Excellence Committee 16

Regional Education Service Centers 17

Adding or Withdrawing Grades from a Regional School District 17

On-Line Procurement by State Agencies, Municipalities
and Regional and Local School Districts
17

Exemption from Permit Requirements for PTA Conducted Bingo 17

TEACHERS 18

Bilingual Educator Certification 18

Teaching Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities 18

The BEST Program 18

Teacher Certification Revocation Process 19

Temporary Teaching Certificate 19

Hiring of Support Staff for Teachers of the Blind and
Visually Impaired
19

Conforming Teachers' Retirement System Provisions to
the Federal Tax Law
19

Retired Teachers' Health Insurance Subsidy 20

Credited Service for Teachers' Retirement 20

HIGHER EDUCATION 20

Mumps and Chickenpox Immunization 20

Carryover Authority for the Capitol Scholarship Program 21

Adult Literacy Board 21

Security Protocol at the Constituent Units 21

Borrower Repayment and the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation 21

Connecticut Student Loan Foundation Board 22

Hospital-Based Occupational Schools 22

Charter Oak State College in The Connecticut Aid to
Public College Students Grant Program
22

UConn Health Center 23

Legion of Christ College of Humanities in Cheshire 23

Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for
Military Children and Graduate Degrees for Members

of the Connecticut National Guard
23

Tuition Waiver Benefit for Children and Surviving Spouses
of Armed Forces Members Killed In Action
24

Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan
Authority Bond Authorization
24

CURRICULUM

High School Credit for Private World Language Courses and for Other Subject Areas

This act permits local school boards to give a student credit towards meeting high school graduation requirements for (1) completing a world-language course provided by a non-profit organization and (2) passing a subject area proficiency test the education commissioner identifies and approves. The commissioner must prescribe the world language examinations and identify and approve the subject area proficiency examinations within available appropriations.

(PA 08-138, effective July 1, 2008)

Technology Pilot Program

The act expands a pilot program to use technology in providing computer-assisted writing, instruction, and testing for 9th and 10th grade public school students to cover students in grades six through 12.

(PA 08-170, 16, effective July 1, 2008)

Democracy Education

An act allows elementary schools to meet the requirement for including a program on participatory democracy in their curriculum in third grade, as well

as fourth or fifth, as already required by law.

(PA 08-153, 3, effective July 1, 2008)

The Arts

An act specifies that “the arts,” which must be taught as part of the required program of instruction in the public schools, means any form of visual or performing arts, including dance, music, art, and theater.

(PA 08-153, 8, effective July 1, 2008)

Curriculum Committee

An act specifically requires boards of education to establish a school district curriculum committee that must recommend, develop, review, and approve all curricula for the district.

(PA 08-153, 6, effective July 1, 2008)

EARLY CHILDHOOD

School Readiness Distribution Formula, SDE Administrative Set-Aside, and Per-Child Grant for FY 09

An act eliminates the existing permanent formula for distributing priority school district (PSD) school readiness grants and substitutes a temporary distribution formula for FY 09 that is based on each district's school readiness program capacity. If the result is greater than the available appropriation, the education commissioner must reduce the number of additional slots the district requested to stay within the appropriated amount.

The act eliminates the State Department of Education's (SDE) authority to retain up to 0.5% of the PSD school readiness appropriation for coordination, program evaluation, and administration while still allowing SDE to retain $198,200 of the appropriation for these purposes for FY 09. Finally, it increases the maximum per-child cost of the SDE's school readiness program for FY 09 to $8,346.

(PA 08-170, 4 & 5, effective July 1, 2008)

Accreditation of School Readiness Programs

This act allows the education commissioner to extend school readiness accreditation deadlines, as long as:

1. SDE conducts an on-site assessment of the program before the extension and keeps a report of the assessment in a uniform commissioner-prescribed manner that includes the conditions necessary for accreditation;

2. the program is licensed by the Department of Public Health if the public health statutes require it;

3. the program has a corrective action plan prescribed and monitored by the commissioner; and

4. the program meets any other conditions the commissioner determines.

(PA 08-85, as amended by PA 08-170, 5, effective July 1, 2008)

Special Allocation for Certain Towns

This act eliminates a special allocation of $3,483,750 of the school readiness appropriation for the following districts: Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Waterbury, and Windham.

(PA 08-170, 35, effective July 1, 2008)

Competitive Grants

An act allows up to 2% of the school readiness grant appropriation to be allocated for competitive school readiness grants. The actual allocation amount must be determined by August 1 annually.

(PA 08-170, 35, effective July 1, 2008)

EDUCATION COST SHARING AND FUNDING

ECS Phase-In Adjustment

Increases in ECS grants to towns are being phased up to full funding based on the difference between each town's base aid (its FY 07 grant) and its fully funded grant. This act reduces the FY 09 phase-in percentage from 23.3% to 22.02% of that difference and requires SDE to adjust the percentage so that each town receives an FY 09 grant that is at least 4.4% higher than its FY 08 grant.

(PA 08-170, 2, effective July 1, 2008)

Supplemental Priority School District Funds Distribution

An act reduces the total funding for a supplemental PSD grant to all priority districts for FY 09 and subsequent years by $590,868, from $4,750,990 to $4,160,122. The State Board of Education must allocate these additional funds to each priority school district in proportion to its regular PSD grant.

(PA 08-170, 3, effective July 1, 2008)

ECS Minimum Budget Requirement

Starting with FY 10, this act raises the minimum proportion of any annual increase in its ECS grant that a town must allocate to education spending in order to meet its minimum budget requirement (MBR) and establishes a special MBR for certain regional school district towns with falling enrollment. It (1) increases the basic MBR percentage range from 15% to 65% of the ECS increase to 50% to 80%, thus requiring all towns to allocate at least half of any annual ECS grant increase to increased education spending, and (2) for a town whose school district was in the third year or more of failing, as a district, to make adequate yearly progress in math or reading it requires the town to spend at least its new MBR percentage plus 20 percentage points or 80% of its increase, whichever is greater. Thus, for FY 10 only, the act requires such districts to spend from 80% to 100% of any ECS increase on education, instead of the 35% to 85% required by prior law.

Finally, any town (1) that is a member of a grade 7-12 or 9-12 regional school district and (2) where the number of students from the town who attend school in the regional district has dropped may meet the MBR by appropriating the legal minimum percentage of its ECS increase for education.

(PA 08-170, 13, effective July 1, 2009)

ECS Funds Transferred to SDE for Educational Improvement

By law, the comptroller must withhold the extra 20% MBR required of a district in need of improvement and transfer it to SDE. The education commissioner must spend the money on the school district's behalf.

Instead of lapsing, the act requires any funds transferred to SDE under this provision that remain unspent on June 30, 2008 to carry forward to, and remain available for spending in, FY 09 for the same purpose.

(PA 08-170, 34, effective on passage)

HEALTH

School Based Health Clinics

Previously, any school-based health clinic (SBHC) constructed on or after October 1, 2007 that was located in or attached to a school building had to have a separate entrance. This act imposes the requirement only for SBHCs located in a school built on or after July 1, 2009 where the SBHC shares a first floor exterior wall with the school building.

(PA 08-184, 35, effective on passage)

Meningitis Information

An act requires the Department of Public Health (DPH), in collaboration with SDE, to contact each local and regional board of education to make them aware of meningococcal meningitis information. This must be done by September 1, 2008 and include information on the causes, symptoms, and spread of meningococcal meningitis and vaccination information reflecting the Centers for Disease Control and Protection's (CDC) current recommendations. DPH must periodically update the meningitis information it provides.

(PA 08-184, 55, effective July 1, 2008)

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Asylum Hill Charter School Admissions

The act allows the Asylum Hill Charter School, if the education commissioner approves it as a state charter school and during its first year of operation, to enroll students directly from its pre-kindergarten program without operating a lottery for those students. The rest of the school's students must be admitted through a lottery.

(PA 08-170, 9, effective July 1, 2008)

Records and Governing Council

This act applies the existing student records transfer laws to state charter schools. This means that state charter schools must send and be sent written notice of a student transfer. Additionally, state charter schools must send or be sent a transfer student's education records within 10 days of the notification.

The act specifies that statutory charter school governing council membership requirements must be met at all times, not just at the time of charter application or renewal.

(PA 08-50, effective July 1, 2008)

OPEN CHOICE

Preschool Program Grants for Hartford Students

An act allows the education commissioner to provide grants for Hartford students to participate in preschool programs in addition to the all-day kindergarten programs under the Open Choice interdistrict school attendance program between Hartford and other districts. As with the kindergarten program grants, the preschool grants can be used to pay for before- and after-school care and remedial services for preschool students in the program as well as for subsidies to receiving districts.

The act eliminates an existing, more general authorization for the commissioner, within available appropriations, to make grants for preschool and kindergarten programs in the Sheff region that the commissioner approves for students participating in Open Choice.

(PA 08-170, 6, effective July 1, 2008)

Academic Support Grants

An act restricts the commissioner's authority to make grants, within available appropriations, for academic support programs for Open Choice participants. Under the act, the grants are limited to academic support programs that help the state meet the goals of the 2008 Sheff agreement. Under prior law, the authorization applied generally to such programs in the Sheff region.

(PA 08-170, 6, effective July 1, 2008)

MAGNET SCHOOLS

Direct Enrollment

This act requires magnet schools with unused capacity that enroll students directly to give preference to students from districts that are not participating in any interdistrict magnet schools or the Open Choice interdistrict student attendance program, to an extent determined by the education commissioner instead of giving preference only to students from districts not participating in the particular school.

The act also modifies the statutory tuition formula for these students and applies it only to RESC-operated magnets schools and only for FY 09. It also limits the annual increase in the per-student tuition to no more than 10%. It removes a reference to participating districts to conform to a 2007 change.

Finally, the act requires participating districts to provide opportunities for their students to attend an interdistrict magnet school in a number at least equal to (1) the number specified in any written agreement with an interdistrict magnet school operator or (2) the average number of students that the participating district enrolled in the magnet school during the previous three school years.

(PA 08-170, 17, effective July 1, 2008)

Bloomfield Magnet School

For FYs 08 and 09, an act exempts the Bloomfield interdistrict magnet school from statutory provisions (1) limiting the number of students from a participating town to 75% and (2) requiring racial minorities to comprise between 25% and 75% of the student body. However, for FY 08, it reduces the school's grant by half.

(PA 08-170, 18, effective on passage)

Quinebaug Valley Community College

The act makes the community-technical colleges board of governors, on behalf of Quinebaug Valley Community College, eligible for interdistrict magnet school, operating, and transportation grants for any interdistrict magnet school, not just a Sheff magnet.

(PA 08-170, 7, 8 effective July 1, 2008)

Magnet School Construction

An act transfers a previously authorized grant commitment for a new interdistrict magnet school from East Hartford to Glastonbury with the school to be located in Glastonbury. It makes the community-technical college board of trustees eligible for a magnet school construction grant on behalf of Quinebaug Valley Community College and makes it easier for New London to qualify for a higher state school construction reimbursement rate for its magnet school construction projects. It also adds a magnet school operated by Goodwin College to the act's 2008 project list, commits the state to reimburse 95% of the school's eligible construction costs, and limits the total project costs to $80 million.

(PA 08-169, 12, 13, 25, 26, 28, effective on passage)

Operating Grants

An act eliminates a duplicative section on magnet school operating grants.

(PA 08-153, effective on passage)

SHEFF V. O'NEILL

Resolution Approving the Settlement Agreement in Sheff V. O'Neill

The legislature approved a stipulated agreement establishing a new timetable for the state to make reasonable progress in reducing racial, ethnic, and economic isolation in the Hartford Public Schools, pursuant to the Connecticut Supreme Court's 1996 ruling in Sheff v. O'Neill. The new agreement relies on voluntary desegregation methods to achieve its goals. The agreement covers five years, although it allows the parties to extend it to include the 2013-14 school year. The first settlement agreement expired on June 30, 2007 with its goals unmet.

(HR 16, SR 18. Pursuant to CGS 3-125a, the agreement is considered approved if the General Assembly fails to reject it by a 3/5th vote of each house within 30 days of its submission.)

Sheff Region

The act eliminates the statutory list of the school districts that make up the Sheff region. The same districts are listed in the agreement. They are: Avon, Bloomfield, Canton, East Granby, East Hartford, East Windsor, Ellington, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Hartford, Manchester, Newington, Rocky Hill, Simsbury, South Windsor, Suffield, Vernon, West Hartford, Wethersfield, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.

(PA 08-170, 6, effective July 1, 2008)

Sheff Magnet Grants

Operating Grants. The act expands the entities that may establish and operate interdistrict magnet schools and receive state grants for doing so in order to help the state meet the goals of the 2008 Sheff settlement (“Sheff magnets”) to include:

1. the community-technical colleges board of trustees on behalf of any community college;

2. the UConn, Connecticut State University, or any independent college's board of trustees on behalf of their respective institutions; and

3. any other nonprofit corporation the education commissioner approves.

Operating Grant Approval. The act expands the criteria the education commissioner must consider before approving annual operating grants for Sheff magnets to include whether the school is meeting the Sheff agreement's desegregation standard. It bars the commissioner from approving an operating grant for any Sheff magnet that does not meet the standard by its second year of operation unless he determines that, to comply with the Sheff agreement, it is appropriate to continue the grant for an additional year or years. If the commissioner makes this determination, the act exempts a Sheff magnet (1) that began operating before July 1, 2005 from the requirement that an interdistrict magnet school enroll no more than 80% of its students from a single district and (2) that began operating on or after July 1, 2005 from requirements that (a) it enroll no more than 75% of its students from a single district and (b) its total enrollment be at least 25% but no more than 75% minority.

Per-Student Grants for RESC-Operated Sheff Magnets. By law, RESC-operated magnet schools that enroll less than 55% of its students from a single town receive higher per-student operating grants. An act gives these grants to RESC-operated Sheff magnets that enroll less than 60% of their students from Hartford.

A RESC-operated magnet school that enrolls 55% or more of its students from a single town receives a state grant for each student from any other town of $6,730 for FY 09, $7,440 for FY 10, and $8,158 for FY 11. An act gives these grants to RESC-operated magnet schools that enroll 60% or more of their students from Hartford, for each student from outside Hartford.

Academic Support and Summer School Grants. The act makes several changes in grants for summer school educational programs offered to students attending interdistrict magnet school programs. It:

1. expands the types of programs eligible for grants to include academic support as well as summer school programs;

2. limits grant-eligible programs to those that serve students attending Sheff magnets, and

3. expands the entities that can receive the grants to any of the entities authorized to operate Sheff magnets.

Start-Up Grants. The act authorizes the education commissioner, within available appropriations, to provide grants of up to $75,000 for start-up costs for developing new Sheff magnet programs; allows any authorized Sheff magnet operating entity to receive the grants; and exempts these grants from the payment schedule for other magnet operating grants, which requires the state to pay 50% by September 1 and the balance by January 1.

(PA 08-170, 7, effective July 1, 2008)

Transportation Grants for Sheff Magnets

The act allows any authorized Sheff magnet operating entity to receive state transportation grants of up to $1,300 per student for transporting students to interdistrict magnet programs. The act eliminates SDE's authority to retain up to 1% of the total magnet school transportation appropriation for program evaluation and administration.

(PA 08-170, 8, effective July 1, 2008)

Charter School Start-Up Grants

The act authorizes the education commissioner, within available appropriations, to provide grants of up to $75,000 for start-up costs for newly approved state charter schools that the commissioner determines help the state meet the goals of the Sheff agreement.

(PA 08-170, 10, effective July 1, 2008)

Fund Transfers

The act authorizes the education commissioner to transfer FY 09 funds appropriated for the Sheff settlement in the state budget adopted in 2007 to:

1. grants for interdistrict cooperative programs,

2. per-student grants for state charter schools,

3. Open Choice Program grants,

4. interdistrict magnet school grants, and

5. regional vocational-technical schools for programs to help meet Sheff goals.

(PA 08-170, 11, effective July 1, 2008)

Direct Enrollment in Sheff Magnets

The act allows Sheff magnets that begin operating between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009 to enroll students directly from any district without participation agreements and sets tuition accordingly. Each Sheff magnet operating under this exception for the 2008-09 school year must establish district participation agreements before operating the school for the 2009-10 school year.

(PA 08-170, 14, effective July 1, 2008)

Transportation to Vocational-Technical Schools and Agricultural Science and Technology Education Centers

The act allows the education commissioner, within available appropriations, to reimburse local and regional boards of education and regional education service centers (RESCs) up to $2,000 per student for the cost of transporting Hartford students to vocational-technical schools or agricultural science and technology education centers outside Hartford to help meet Sheff goals. Under prior law, the state reimbursement for any local board of education that transports students to such schools was between zero and 65% of the cost, depending on town wealth.

(PA 08-170, 12, effective July 1, 2008)

Sheff Magnet School Construction

An act (1) allows additional entities other than local or regional school districts to apply for and receive state school construction grants for interdistrict magnet schools that implement the 2008 Sheff v. O'Neill settlement (“Sheff magnets”); (2) gives Sheff magnet applicants more time to apply and receive approval for school construction grants and allows them to receive a 95% reimbursement rate for their eligible construction costs; and (3) authorizes up to $3 million in state bonding for start-up grants for new Sheff magnets.

(PA 08-169, 26, 27, & 29, effective July 1, 2008)

VOCATIONAL-AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION

Agricultural Science and Technology Education

The act changes the statutory name for the education offered at vocational agriculture (vo ag) centers from “vocational agriculture education” to “agricultural science and technology education” and changes the name of the centers to conform.

(PA 08-170, 19-33, effective July 1, 2008. See also, PA 08-152)

Agriculture Science and Technology Education Enrollment Opportunities

The act expands the enrollment opportunities school districts that do not operate agriculture science and technology education centers must offer to students who wish to attend a center in another district. It requires districts not operating centers to provide enrollment opportunities in one or more centers, not just one center, run by other districts. And if a district provided opportunities for its students to enroll in more than one center in the school year starting July 1, 2007, the act requires it to continue to do so in the numbers required by law and the act.

This act requires districts that do not maintain a center to, in addition, provide enrollment opportunities for 9th graders in each center it designates that are at least equal to (1) the number of 9th graders specified in its written agreement with each center or (2) the average number of 9th graders that enrolled in each designated center or centers over the preceding three years.

(PA 08-170, 20, effective July 1, 2008. See also, PA 08-152)

SAFETY/DISCIPLINE

Bullying and Suspensions

An act extends the implementation date of PA 07-66, which (1) generally prohibits out-of-school suspensions and (2) extends, from five to 10 days, the maximum length of in-school suspensions. It provides that in-school suspensions may be served in any school building under the jurisdiction of the board, as the board determines. It also requires the education commissioner, by October 1, 2008, to issue guidelines to help boards determine whether a pupil should receive an in-school or out-of-school suspension.

The act also specifically expands the definition of bullying and requires school boards to implement the bullying policies they were required to adopt. Finally, it requires teachers to be trained in bullying prevention. Boards of education that implement an evidence-based model approach to bullying do not have to provide the training.

(PA 08-160, effective July 1 2008, except for the provisions on the suspension definition and guidelines, which are effective upon passage; and the in-service training, teacher preparation training, and SDE policy review, which are effective July 1, 2009.)

Truancy

An act appropriates $5,232,000 to the Judicial Branch in FY 09 to, among other things, provide truancy prevention and create a juvenile justice urban cities pilot program.

(PA 08-51, effective July 1, 2008)

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

An act authorizes state grant commitments for 29 new school construction projects and reauthorizes 18 previously authorized projects that have changed substantially in cost or scope. It increases the FY 09 state bond authorization for school construction projects by $20 million. The act also imposes a deadline for school districts to submit school project change orders to SDE for cost eligibility review and establishes a separate process for school districts to award architectural or construction management service contracts on school projects. It requires ownership of school buildings for which the state contributed 95% or more, of the cost, to revert to the state if the building is changed to a non-school use within 20 years after the General Assembly approved the grant for the project. Finally, the act waives statutory and regulatory requirements to make specified school construction projects eligible for state grants subject to certain conditions.

(PA 08-169, effective on passage, except for the provisions on change orders, reversion to the state, and architects, which are effective July 1, 2008.)

STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION/SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Educational Interests of the State

An act resolves inconsistencies related to bringing a complaint against a board of education for failure or inability to implement the state's educational interests.

(PA 08-153, 1, effective on passage)

Accountability

An act expands the actions the State Board of Education (SBE) can take to improve student performance, remove a school or district from the “low-achieving” list, and address other school or district needs. It expands the board's authority to require additional training and technical assistance for teachers, principals, and central office staff, to also include students' parents or guardians. It also allows SBE to require training of local and regional boards of education to improve their operational efficiency and effectiveness, and submission of an annual action plan to the education commissioner outlining procedures for monitoring their effectiveness. Finally, the act provides that if SBE issues certain directives and they affect working conditions, the directives must be carried out in accordance with the Teacher Negotiation Act.

(PA 08-153, 4, effective July 1, 2008)

Vocational Technical Advisory Board

An act requires smaller businesses to be represented on the statewide advisory committee for regional vocational-technical (V-T) schools and requires the Senate president pro tempore to appoint to the committee a V-T school teacher and a business representative, rather than two of the latter.

(PA 08-153, 5, effective July 1, 2008)

Educational Equity and Excellence Committee

An act eliminates the 30-member Committee on Educational Equity and Excellence, which was established on July 1, 1994. The committee was inactive for many years.

(PA 08-153, 7, effective on passage)

Regional Education Service Centers

An act allows the education commissioner to allocate funds to RESCs so that they can provide professional development, technical assistance, and evaluation activities to boards of education, state charter schools, regional vocational technical schools, school readiness providers, and other commissioner determined educational entities.

(PA 08-139, effective July 1, 2008)

Adding or Withdrawing Grades from a Regional School District

An act establishes an alternative procedure for a qualifying regional school district that does not include grades K-12 to add or withdraw grades from the regional district. The alternative procedure allows the regional board of education, on its own or at the request of two or more member towns' boards of education, to recommend and develop a plan to add or withdraw grades and submit it directly to a referendum in the member towns. The alternative procedure bypasses the requirement that member towns' boards of education and finance appoint a special committee to study whether to add or withdraw grades.

(PA 08-169, 23 & 24, effective July 1, 2008)

On-Line Procurement by State Agencies, Municipalities and Regional and Local School Districts

This act allows contracting agencies to use a reverse auction to award contracts for goods or supplies if they determine that doing so would be advantageous to the agencies and ensure a competitive contract award. Contracting agencies may contract with a third party to prepare and manage the reverse auction. The act requires that agencies comply with their policies and any applicable statutory requirements when using a reverse auction to award these contracts. Under the act, “contracting agencies” include school districts.

(PA 08-141, effective on passage)

Exemption from Permit Requirements for PTA Conducted Bingo

This act allows parent teacher associations (PTAs) or organizations (PTOs) conducting bingo for the amusement and recreation of their members and guests to do so without the Division of Special Revenue (DSR) permit required by most other qualified organizations. The act creates a separate, less stringent and complex oversight process for PTAs and PTOs that

is almost identical to that for recreational bingo for senior citizens.

(PA 08-62, effective on passage)

TEACHERS

Bilingual Educator Certification

An act extends temporary certification requirements for bilingual education teachers for an additional year, until July 1, 2009. Under the temporary certification requirements, bilingual education teachers (1) do not have to hold a dual certification in both bilingual education and either elementary education, if they wish to teach at the elementary level, or a subject area if they wish to teach a subject at the secondary level and (2) must demonstrate oral and written competency in both English and their other teaching language.

(PA 08-170, 15, effective July 1, 2008)

Teaching Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

This act requires the education, higher education, and developmental services commissioners, and Southern Connecticut State University's (SCSU) president, or their designees, to develop recommendations for incorporating ways of teaching children with autism or other developmental disabilities in (1) teacher preparation programs; (2) requirements for beginning teacher certification; (3) in-service training for active teachers; and (4) training programs for school paraprofessionals, related service professionals, early childhood certificate holders, school administrators, and parents. The commissioners and the president must define autism and developmental disabilities for purposes of the recommendations and report the recommendations to the Education, Public Health, and Higher Education committees by February 1, 2009.

(PA 08-169, 31, effective on passage)

The BEST Program

As of July 1, 2009, this act eliminates the requirement that newly certified public school teachers participate in the beginning educator support and training (BEST) program. As of the same date, it also eliminates the SDE's authority to fund the program and local school districts' responsibility for providing support to beginning teachers in accordance with the law and SDE regulations.

In addition, the act (1) eliminates the video component from the BEST assessment for new teachers for the 2008-09 school year and (2) establishes a 21-member task force to develop a new mentor assistance program to replace the BEST program starting in the 2009-2010 school year and recommend transition procedures between the old and new programs.

(PA 08-107, effective July 1, 2009 for the BEST Program elimination; July 1, 2008 for the elimination of the video component of the BEST assessment; and on passage for the task force.)

Teacher Certification Revocation Process

This act requires the education commissioner rather than the SBE to make the final determination of whether to uphold the revocation of an educator's public school teaching credential when the educator has been convicted of certain crimes.

(PA 08-148, effective July 1, 2008)

Temporary Teaching Certificate

An act allows SBE to issue a temporary 90-day teaching certificate in the early childhood education endorsement area at a board of education's request. The preexisting conditions for 90-day certificates must be met for the endorsement's issuance.

(PA 08-153, effective on passage)

Hiring of Support Staff for Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired

An act allows up to 5% of the Board of Education and Services to the Blind's (BESB) Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped account appropriation to be used to employ special assistants to the blind and other support staff needed to ensure services are delivered efficiently. These assistants are state-classified employees who, among other duties, drive visually impaired people to work, including teachers.

(PA 08-133, effective July 1, 2008)

Conforming Teachers' Retirement System Provisions to the Federal Tax Law

By incorporating by reference the appropriate provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, this act makes the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) conform to the requirements of the federal tax law for a “qualified employee plan” with respect to (1) limits on the annual salary covered by the plan, (2) maximum annual voluntary contributions, (3) annual retirement benefit limits, and (4) minimum benefit distributions. Qualified employee plans receive special tax benefits.

The act also requires the Teachers' Retirement Board (TRB) to set the interest to be credited on TRS members' mandatory and voluntary contributions to the system at a rate consistent with industry standards and practices rather than at “substantially” the same rate as the Teachers' Retirement Fund.

(PA 08-76, effective on passage)

Retired Teachers' Health Insurance Subsidy

This act increases, from $110 to $220 per person, the monthly state health insurance premium subsidy for certain retired teachers, and their spouses or surviving spouses, who receive health insurance coverage from the retiree's last employing board of education. To qualify for the increased subsidy, the retiree must (1) have attained normal age to participate in Medicare (currently, age 65); (2) not be eligible for Part A of Medicare without cost; and (3) contribute at least $220 per month towards his or her medical and prescription drug plan provided by the board of education.

(PA 08-112, effective July 1, 2008)

Credited Service for Teachers' Retirement

The act also allows Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) members to purchase credit in TRS for more than 10 years of out-of-state teaching service, provided they pay the full present value actuarial cost of the additional benefits arising from the purchased service exceeding 10 years.

It also allows teachers who meet certain conditions to retain TRS service credit for employment outside the scope of their teaching certificates.

(PA 08-112, effective July 1, 2008, except for the provision concerning credit for service outside the scope of the member's certificate, which is effective on passage.)

HIGHER EDUCATION

Mumps and Chickenpox Immunization

Beginning August 1, 2010, this act requires full-time or matriculating students at a Connecticut college or university who were born after December 31, 1956 to show proof that they have been adequately immunized against mumps and chicken pox as recommended by the national Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices. The law already contains a similar requirement for measles and rubella immunization. The act provides exemptions from the mumps and chicken pox immunization requirement that parallel those already permitted for measles and rubella.

(PA 08-184, 44, effective October 1, 2008)

Carryover Authority for the Capitol Scholarship Program

Under prior law, the Department of Higher Education (DHE) could carry forward up to 5% of its unspent annual appropriations for student financial assistance. This act eliminates the 5% cap and limits the carry forward to unspent appropriations for the Capitol Scholarship Grant Program.

(PA 08-72, effective July 1, 2008)

Adult Literacy Board

This act requires the Office of Workforce Competitiveness (OWC) to establish a 17-member Adult Literacy Leadership Board as a standing committee of the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission (CETC) to review and advise the commission on workforce investment and adult literacy programs and services. It requires the board, among other things, to (1) develop a three-year strategic plan for an adult literacy system, (2) prepare an annual report card on the status of adult literacy in the state, and (3) report annually to the governor and legislature on its activities. The board terminates as a standing committee on July 1, 2012.

(PA 08-163, effective July 1, 2008)

Security Protocol at the Constituent Units

This act requires each state higher education constituent unit and private college and university to submit a plan to the DHE, by January 1, 2009, that identifies procedures to heighten, through effective educational strategies, faculty and staff awareness of students and others on campus who may pose a risk of harming themselves or others. The procedures must be designed to educate faculty and staff on how to recognize and respond to such individuals.

(PA 08-157, effective July 1, 2008)

Borrower Repayment and the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation

This act authorizes the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation (CSLF) to repay certain borrowers 10% of their federal student loans made or guaranteed by CSLF. Eligible borrowers must (1) be state residents when they apply for repayment, (2) meet any applicable income limitations and criteria for subsidized federal student loans under the 1965 Higher Education Act, (3) have successfully completed the program for which the loan was made, and (4) have applied for repayment between July 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008. The loans must be for an academic period prior to July 1, 1979. CSLF must refund the Department of Higher Education (DHE) any unspent appropriations for the repayment program that DHE transferred to CSLF.

(PA 08-177, effective on passage)

Connecticut Student Loan Foundation Board

This act reduces the size of the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation's board of directors from 15 to 14 members and changes its composition by (1) requiring that each legislative leader appoint a person knowledgeable in business or finance and (2) eliminating the governor's appointment of a financial aid officer at an eligible institution and changing one of the governor's appointees from a representative of the private colleges to a representative of an eligible higher education institution.

(PA 08-149, effective July 1, 2008)

Hospital-Based Occupational Schools

This act requires hospitals that offer any form or manner of trade, industrial, commercial, service, professional, or other occupational instruction for remuneration, consideration, reward, or promise to obtain an authorization certificate from the higher education commissioner for such instruction. The hospital-based occupational school must pay a $200 application fee payable to the General Fund's Private Occupational School Student Protection Account when submitting an initial authorization application. The act specifies that each hospital-based occupational school's authorization period is three years and the schools must pay a $200 renewal fee payable to the Student Protection Account. Each school must pay one-half percent of its quarterly net tuition revenue to the Student Protection Account. The act also makes various technical changes in the higher education statutes.

(PA 08-116, effective July 1, 2008, except for the technical changes, which are effective on passage.)

Charter Oak State College in The Connecticut Aid to Public College Students Grant Program

The act requires the Board of Governors of Higher Education had to base its annual appropriation request for the Connecticut Aid to Public College Students (CAPCS) grant program for Charter Oak State College on Charter Oak's fee waiver set-aside in the fiscal year two years before the fiscal year in which the appropriation applies instead of in the previous fiscal year.

(PA 08-55, effective July 1, 2008)

UConn Health Center

This act implements the recommendations of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) needs-based analysis of the UConn Health Center (UCHC) facilities plan in two phases and requires the Office of Legislative Management to contract with CASE to act as an independent monitor during the implementation process.

In phase 1, the UCHC and a regional hospital or hospitals must develop a mutual vision for establishing affiliation agreements. In phase 2, they must articulate the affiliation agreements that detail their working relationships to support excellence in medical education. CASE must report on the implementation process, by June 30, 2008 for phase 1 and January 30, 2009 for phase 2, to the legislature, UCHC, Office of Policy and Management, and any regional hospital involved.

(S.A. 08-4, effective on passage)

Legion of Christ College of Humanities in Cheshire

An act authorizes the Legion of Christ College of Humanities in Cheshire to (1) operate as a college in Connecticut, according to its bylaws and subject to the requirements of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, and (2) confer Associate of Arts degrees and grant diplomas customary for higher education institutions. The board of governors accredited the college on April 18, 2007.

(S.A. 08-6, effective on passage)

Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and Graduate Degrees for Members of the Connecticut National Guard

This act (1) enacts and commits Connecticut to the terms of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and (2) creates an Interstate Commission on Educational Opportunity for Military Children to administer and enforce the compact. It also expands the National Guard tuition waiver program at UConn and in the Connecticut State University (CSU) system to include graduate programs.

The compact provides a legal mechanism and creates uniform standards for schools and school boards to use to facilitate placement, enrollment, graduation, data collection, and other decisions involving children in kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) when they move to other states because their parents are deployed on active duty in the U.S. Armed Services. The compact's stated purpose is to remove barriers to educational success imposed on such children because of their parents' frequent moves and deployment.

(PA 08-57, effective on passage for the compact; July 1, 2008 for the tuition waiver for guard members.)

Tuition Waiver Benefit for Children and Surviving Spouses of Armed Forces Members Killed In Action

This act requires UConn, the CSU system, and the regional community-technical colleges (CTC) to waive tuition for any Connecticut resident who is a dependent child or surviving spouse of a state resident killed in action while performing active military duty in the U.S. Armed Forces on or after September 11, 2001.

(PA 08-71, effective July 1, 2008)

Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority Bond Authorization

This act increases, from $170 million to $300 million, the aggregate amount of outstanding Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) bonds that may be secured by special capital reserve funds. Bonds secured by special capital reserve funds are not backed by the state's full faith and credit but the state undertakes a contingent liability for the bonds by authorizing an issuing entity to establish such funds. CHESLA makes loans to college students and their parents to help them finance the cost of undergraduate and graduate education.

(PA 08-117, effective July 1, 2008)

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