OLR Bill Analysis

SB 2053

Emergency Certification

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE PROVISIONS OF THE BUDGET CONCERNING EDUCATION, AUTHORIZING STATE GRANT COMMITMENTS FOR SCHOOL BUILDING PROJECTS, AND MAKING CHANGES TO THE STATUTES CONCERNING SCHOOL BUILDING PROJECTS AND OTHER EDUCATION STATUTES.

SUMMARY:

This bill approves grant commitments for local school construction projects and makes various changes in statutes relating to school construction projects. It also adopts provisions to implement the FY 10-11 state budget relating to education and education grants. Finally, it makes changes in education statutes dealing with, among other things, (1) interdistrict magnet schools, (2) early childhood education and school readiness programs, (3) an education and mentoring program for beginning teachers, (4) substitute teachers, (5) school dropouts, (6) in-school suspension, and (6) the Connecticut Independent College Student grant.

A section-by-section analysis appears below.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

1 — SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROJECT GRANT COMMITMENTS

This bill authorizes $ 398. 5 million in state grant commitments for school construction projects, including increased grants for reauthorized projects that have changed in cost or scope by at least 10%.

It approves state grant commitments for school construction projects on the education commissioner's 2009 project priority list. It authorizes new grants for 18 school projects and grant increases for 21 previously authorized projects that have changed by more than 10% in cost or scope. Grant commitments for new projects total $ 247. 3 million. The net increase in grant commitments for reauthorized projects is $ 151. 2 million.

2 — MAGNET SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION MORATORIUM

Starting July 1, 2009, the bill bars the education commissioner from approving state school construction grants for new interdistrict magnet schools. The moratorium does not apply to magnet schools that help the state meet the goals of the 2008 Sheff v. O'Neill settlement, as determined by the commissioner. The moratorium lasts until the commissioner develops a comprehensive statewide magnet school plan. The commissioner must submit the plan to the Education Committee by January 1, 2011.

3 — LIMIT ON CONSTRUCTION CHANGE ORDERS

For school projects authorized after July 1, 2009 and costing more than $ 10 million, the bill bars state reimbursement for the cost of construction change orders and other change directives that exceed 5% of the project's total authorized cost. Under current law, change orders exceeding 5% of the authorized cost of such projects are reimbursed at 50% of the otherwise eligible amount.

A change order is an amendment to a school construction project that does not have to be publicly bid but must be approved in advance by the State Department of Education (SDE). SDE guidelines state that districts should use change orders only for unforeseen or emergency conditions and that such changes should total no more than 10% of the original project price. Changes that exceed 10% require legislative reauthorization.

4 — DUPLICATIVE SCHOOL PROJECTS

The bill allows the education commissioner to reject an application for a local school construction project if the project's proposed educational specifications or theme duplicates a program offered at a vocational-technical school or interdistrict magnet school in the same region.

5 — REIMBURSEMENT FOR DELAYED SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION GRANT PAYMENTS

The bill requires the state to reimburse school districts for their costs for short-term borrowing to cover state school construction grant payments that were delayed because state bond funds for the payments were unavailable during FY 10. To be eligible for reimbursement, a district must have submitted a grant payment request that was approved by the SDE between July 1 and December 31, 2009.

Reimbursement must equal 100% of a district's reasonable fees, interest, and other costs or lost income related to district borrowing to cover school construction project costs otherwise payable by the state, including those attributable to shifting money previously budgeted for, or allocated to, another purpose to cover school construction project expenses. The bill sets the interest rate for costs attributable to such shifting at the state Short Term Investment Fund's interest rate payable for the period during FY 10 that bond funds to pay state grants were unavailable.

Towns must apply to the SDE for reimbursement by March 31, 2010. The education commissioner prescribes how districts apply and determines whether costs are reasonable.

The bill requires the commissioner to pay reimbursement grants from the bond authorization for school construction project grants. As required by IRS regulations, to ensure the bonds funding the reimbursement grants qualify as tax-exempt, the bill establishes as the state's official intent that (1) the state reasonably expects to use the bond proceeds to reimburse the costs and expenses the bill describes and (2) the aggregate reimbursements are not expected to exceed the total amount of funds the bill allows the state to spend for the reimbursements. It authorizes the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary and the state treasurer to amend the bill's declaration of official intent on the state's behalf.

The state generally reimburses school districts for 20% to 80% of the eligible costs for local school construction projects (reimbursement rates for certain types of projects are higher). State school construction grants are funded by state GO bonds. Grants are disbursed to school districts in “progress payments” that cover ongoing project construction expenses.

6-17 & 19-21 — WAIVERS FOR SPECIFIC SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS (“NOTWITHSTANDING” PROVISIONS)

The bill waives certain statutory and regulatory requirements to make specified school construction projects eligible for state grants under certain conditions, as described in Table 1 below. These waivers are referred to as “notwithstanding” provisions.

Table 1: Notwithstanding Provisions for Local School Projects

District

School

Project

Requirement(s) Waived

Conditions

6

West Hartford

Braeburn Elementary School

Portable classrooms

Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

Bureau approval of plans and specifications

7

West Hartford

Hall High

Interior modification for restroom accessibility not included in athletic field accessibility improvements

Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

Bureau approval of plans and specifications

8

Manchester

Bentley Head Start Center School

Purchase playground equipment

Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

Bureau approval of plans and specifications

9

Manchester

Bennet Middle School

Bennet Middle School project

Six-month deadline for submitting change orders or change directives

District may submit only change orders executed after July 1, 2008 and before July 1, 2009

10

Groton

Fitch High School

Extension and alterations

Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

Bureau approval of plans and specifications

11

Greenwich

Hamilton Avenue School

Demolition and abatement

Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

Bureau approval of plans and specifications

12

Waterbury

Enlightenment and Special Education Program Center

Alteration

Requirement that project scope be established at time of application

Expand scope to include an elevator and egress stair

13

Franklin

Franklin Elementary School

Alteration, energy conservation, roof replacement

Projected enrollment calculation formula and standard space specifications

Use 225 as projected enrollment in grades K-8 to increase eligible square footage

14

Killingly

Killingly Regional Vocational Agriculture Center

New center

Limits on amount of land acquisition costs eligible for state reimbursement

Purchase an additional 25 acres

15

Region 19

Not specified

Vocational agriculture equipment and building modifications

● Requirement that project scope be established at time of application

● Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

● Expand project scope to include an air handling system

● Bureau approval of plans and specifications

16

Mansfield

Mansfield Middle School

Alteration

Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

Bureau approval of plans and specifications

17

New Haven

Metropolitan Business Academy High School

New construction

Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

Bureau approval of plans and specifications

19

Ledyard

Ledyard Middle School

Replace floor covering

Timing of bid and plan approval by SDE's Bureau of School Facilities

None

20

Ledyard

Ledyard High School

Water project – costs associated with building a pump station

Ineligible costs

None

21

Suffield

Suffield High School and Suffield Vocational Agriculture facility

New high school and vo-ag facility

Site acquisition

Exclude donated land from eligible site acquisition cost and maximum acreage determinations

18 — GRANT TRANSFERS TO MAGNET SCHOOLS AT GOODWIN COLLEGE

Transfer Pathways Magnet School Authorization

The bill transfers the previously authorized grant commitment for the new Pathways Magnet School from Hartford to the Board of Trustees of Goodwin College in East Hartford. The following conditions and limitations apply to the transfer:

1. the school must be located on the Goodwin College campus;

2. 100% of the total estimated project costs up to $ 38,830,000 plus increases allowed in the bill (see below) are eligible for reimbursement, minus reimbursements to Hartford for its reasonable and necessary costs already spent and that the education commissioner considers eligible;

3. reimbursable architectural costs for Goodwin College are limited to costs needed to place the previously designed building on the Goodwin campus; and

4. the education commissioner may disapprove the project if construction has not started within two years after the bill's passage.

Goodwin College Magnet School Grant Authorization Transfer to Pathways Magnet School

PA 08-169 authorized a grant commitment to Goodwin College for the Goodwin College-Connecticut River Academy for Earth and Space Science Magnet School with a total project cost of up to $ 80 million.

This bill authorizes the transfer of up to $ 7 million of that authorization to the Pathways Magnet School project. It waives a requirement that previously authorized projects with significant changes in cost or scope be resubmitted to the legislature and allows the transfer without additional legislative authorization, contingent on a commensurate reduction in the total authorized cost for the Earth and Space Science Magnet School project.

Early Childhood Magnet Facility at Goodwin College

The bill adds a new early childhood education magnet facility project at Goodwin College to the 2009 priority list. It makes the project eligible for a school construction reimbursement grant if Goodwin College files a grant application before June 30, 2010 and meets all other school construction grant requirements.

The bill (1) limits the total cost for the early childhood education project to $ 16 million and (2) reduces the 2008 authorization for the Goodwin College-Connecticut River Academy for Earth and Space Science Magnet School by the same amount.

22 & 24 — MAGNET SCHOOL GRANTS AND TUITION

Magnet Moratorium

Starting July 1, 2009, the bill prohibits the education commissioner from accepting interdistrict magnet school operating grant applications for new magnet schools unless the school will help the state meet the goals of the 2008 Sheff v. O'Neill stipulation and order. Applications for other new magnet schools can be accepted once the commissioner develops a comprehensive state-wide interdistrict magnet school plan, which the bill requires him to submit to the Education Committee by January 1, 2011.

Operating Budgets

By law, when approving magnet school operating grant applications, the commissioner must consider, among other things, the proposed operating budget and the sources of funding for the school. For magnet schools operated by entities other than boards of education, this bill permits the commissioner to only approve a budget if it does not exceed, on a per pupil basis, the “maximum allowable threshold” the bill establishes. This amount is found by dividing the “net current expenditures” by the “average daily membership,” using data from two fiscal years before the fiscal year for which the grant is sought. The maximum allowable threshold is 120% of the state average of this amount. SDE must establish the maximum allowable threshold by December 15 of the fiscal year before the fiscal year for which the grant is sought. If requested by an applicant, the bill allows the commissioner to waive the “maximum allowable threshold” requirement if he determines there are extraordinary programmatic needs.

Grant Amounts

Host Magnets-Generally. Under current law, the per-pupil amount each interdistrict magnet school can receive for enrolled students who are not residents of the town operating the school is set $ 6,730 for FY 09, $ 7,440 for FY 10, and $ 8,158 for FY 11. This bill freezes the per-pupil grant amount at the FY 09 level through FY 11.

Hartford Sheff Magnets. The bill sets the non-resident per-pupil grant for interdistrict magnet schools operated by the Hartford school district pursuant to Sheff v. O'Neill at $ 12,000 for FY 10 and $ 13,054 for FY 11. For the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, the bill prohibits Hartford from charging tuition for any student enrolled in an interdistrict magnet school it operates.

In addition to these grants, for FY 10, the bill allows the commissioner to provide supplemental grants of up to $ 1,054 to the district for each nonresident student attending one of its magnet schools. The grants are subject to the approval of the OPM secretary and the Finance Advisory Committee.

Supplemental Grants-Generally. By law, the commissioner can provide supplemental grants to interdistrict magnet schools after he reviews and approves the total operating budget for the schools, including all revenue and expenditure estimates. The bill specifies that this must be a comprehensive financial review.

RESC Magnets. For RESC-operated magnets that enroll less than 55% of their students from a single town, the bill freezes the per-pupil grant at the FY 09 level of $ 7,620. The amount was scheduled to increase to $ 8,180 for FY 10 and $ 8,741 for FY 11. For RESC-operated magnets enrolling 55% or more of their students from a single district, the bill freezes the per-pupil grant at the FY 09 level of $ 6,730. Under current law, the grant is scheduled to increase to $ 7,440 in FY 10 and $ 8,158 in FY 11. The bill eliminates a provision that would have provided that same per-pupil grant to RESC-operated magnets that enroll at least 60% of their students from Hartford pursuant to Sheff v. O'Neill as is provided to magnets enrolling at least 55% of their students from a single district.

The bill sets a separate per-pupil grant for RESC-operated magnets that (1) began operations for the 1998-99 school year and (2) for the 2008-09 school year, enrolled at least 55%, but no more than 70% of the school's students from a single town. For FY 10, and each fiscal year thereafter, the bill sets the per pupil grant at $ 4,894 for each student that resides in a district enrolling between 55% and 70% of the school's students and at $ 6,730 for the rest of the school's students.

The bill sets a separate per-pupil grant for RESC-operated magnets that began operations for the 2001-02 school year and that, for the 2008-09 school year, enrolled at least 55%, but no more than 80% of the school's students from a single town. For FY 10, and each fiscal year thereafter, the bill sets the per pupil grant at $ 4,250 for each student that resides in a district enrolling up between 55% and 80% of the school's students and at $ 6,730 for the rest of the school's students.

Sheff Magnets. The bill sets the per-pupil grant for each magnet school that enrolls less than 60% of its students from Hartford pursuant to Sheff v. O'Neill at $ 9,695 for FY 10 and $ 10,443 for FY 11. The magnet school must be operated by a RESC; the board of trustees of the community-technical colleges, the Connecticut State University system, or UCONN; the board of governors for an independent college or university; a cooperative arrangement; or any other third-party commissioner approved non-profit. Under current law, RESC-operated magnets that enroll less than 60% of their students from Hartford are treated like RESC-operated magnets enrolling less than 55% of the school's students from a single town.

RESC Magnet Tuition. By law, for FY 09, any tuition a RESC-operated magnet school charges a board of education must be equal to 75% of the difference between the average per pupil expenditure of the magnet school for the prior fiscal year and the amount of any per pupil state subsidy, plus any revenue from other sources calculated on a per pupil basis. The bill raises that percentage to 90% in FY 10 and 100% in FY 11. The bill eliminates a provision for FY 09 that prohibits a tuition increase, on a per pupil basis, that is more than 10% of that charged for the previous fiscal year.

The bill prohibits RESCs from charging tuition in excess of the difference between the total expenditures of the magnet school for the prior fiscal year and the total per pupil state subsidy, plus any revenue from other sources. It allows the commissioner to conduct a comprehensive financial review of the magnet school's operating budget to verify the tuition rate.

23 & 25 — TRANSPORTATION GRANTS

By law, through FY 09, grants to boards of education for transporting public school students must be proportionately reduced if the total exceeds the amount appropriated for that year. The bill extends this provision through FY 11.

By law, magnet school operators that transport students to interdistrict magnet school programs in a town other than the town in which the child resides are eligible to receive a grant for the cost of transporting the students. The law caps the grant amount at $ 1,300 per student. The bill raises that amount to $ 1,400 for FY 10 and $ 2,000 for FY 11 for districts helping to meet the goals of Sheff v. O'Neill, as determined by the commissioner.

For FY 09, it also allows the education commissioner, within available appropriations, to provide supplemental transportation grants to RESCs for interdistrict magnet school transportation. In order to provide the grant, the commissioner must review and approve the RESCs total interdistrict magnet school transportation budget, including all revenue and expenditure estimates.

23 — TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION

By law, the education commissioner can provide grants of up to $ 2,000 per pupil, within available appropriations, to boards of education and RESCs that transport Hartford students out-of-district to technical high schools or regional agricultural science and technology education centers to help the state meet the goals of Sheff v. O'Neill. The bill expands the provision to allow the commissioner to also provide grants for out-of-district students to attend Hartford technical schools to meet the Sheff goals.

24 — SHEFF MAGNET PARTICIPATION AGREEMENTS

The bill allows interdistrict magnet schools that started operating on or after July 1, 2008 pursuant to the Sheff v. O'Neill stipulation and order, to operate without participation agreements indefinitely. Current law only allowed them to do so until July 1, 2009. The bill specifies that the schools must enroll students through a commissioner-designated lottery, rather than “directly.

26 — ECS MAGNET SCHOOL REDUCTION

The bill eliminates a provision, applicable only for FY 09, reducing each town's student count for purposes of Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grants by 25% of the number of the town's students attending full-time interdistrict magnet schools and for whom the state paid a magnet school operating grant.

27 — FUND TRANSFERS

The bill authorizes the education commissioner to transfer funds appropriated for FY 10 and FY 11 for the Sheff settlement in the state budget (PA 09-3, June Special Session) to the following programs to help meet Sheff goals:

1. grants for interdistrict cooperative programs,

2. per-student grants for state charter schools,

3. grants for the Open Choice interdistrict school attendance program,

4. interdistrict magnet school grants, and

5. technical high schools.

28 — ECS FUNDS TRANSFERRED FOR EDUCATIONAL IMPROVEMENT

For FY 08 and FY 09, any town whose school district is in the third year or more of failing, as a district, to make adequate yearly progress in math or reading, had to add 20 percentage points to the share of its ECS increase that it had to spend on education pursuant to the minimum budget requirement (MBR). The comptroller had to withhold these funds and transfer them to SDE. The education commissioner had to spend the money on the school district's behalf to implement any of the educational improvement measures that the State Board of Education requires and to offset any other local education costs that the education commissioner deemed appropriate to achieve school improvement. The commissioner was required to award the funds to the board of education for the identified school district on the condition that it spend the funds in accordance with the commissioner's directives.

Instead of lapsing, this bill requires any funds transferred to SDE under this requirement that remain unspent on June 30, 2009 to carry forward to, and remain available for spending in, FY 10 for the same purposes.

29 — BLOOMFIELD MAGNET SCHOOL

For FYs 08 and 09, PA 08-170 exempted 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. The bill limits the exemption to a school that began operations before July 1, 2008 and extends this waiver through FY 11.

It requires the program, by July 1, 2010, to submit a plan to the education commissioner on how it can meet the racial composition requirements. By January 1, 2011, the commissioner can approve the plan, and he must report on it to the Education Committee.

30 — ECS MINIMUM BUDGET REQUIREMENT

For FY 10 and FY 11, the bill requires each town receiving an ECS grant to budget at least the same amount for education as it budgeted in FY 09. It requires any reduction a town makes in its local budget for education to account for money its local or regional board of education receives directly from the federal State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program under the 2009 federal stimulus act to be subtracted from this minimum budget requirement (MBR).

PA 09-1, June 19 Special Session, allows certain towns to amend adopted local budgets for FY 10 to reduce their education appropriations by up to the amount of funding their local or regional boards of education. It applies to any town whose fiscal authority failed to account for its board of education's direct receipt of SFSF funds when passing its municipal budget before June 30, 2009.

The bill also makes technical changes.

31 — FORMULA FOR DISTRIBUTING SCHOOL READINESS GRANTS TO PRIORITY SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Distribution Formula

This bill makes permanent the existing temporary formula for distributing school readiness grants to priority school districts (PSDs). Current law requires grants for FY 09 to be determined by adding (1) the product of (a) the number of school readiness program slots each district contracted for as of March 30, 2008 and (b) the per-child cost of each slot for FY 09, reduced for less-than-year-round slots, and (2) the product of (a) the additional slots the district requests for FY 09 and (b) the FY 09 per-child cost, reduced for less-than-year-round slots. 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 bill ties the grant to March 30 of the fiscal year before the fiscal year in which the grant is to be paid. It includes in the formula the number of decreased, rather than just increased, slots the districts request.

SDE Administrative Set-Aside

The bill extends through FY 11, SDE's ability to retain $ 198,200 of the PSD school readiness appropriation for coordination, program evaluation, and administration. Under current law, it can do this through FY 09.

32 — EARLY CHILDHOOD COORDINATION, PROGRAM EVALUATION, AND ADMINISTRATION

By law, competitive and noncompetitive school readiness grant funds received by towns cannot be used to supplant federal, state, or local funding received by a town for early childhood education. However, the law allows a town to use the greater of $ 25,000 or up to 5%, but no more than $ 50,000 of the amount received, for coordination, program evaluation, and administration. If a town provides $ 25,000 for these activities, it may use up to 10%, but no more than $ 75,000 for these activities.

The bill instead allows SDE, in consultation with the Department of Social Services, to determine the amount, which must be between $ 25,000 and $ 75,000, based on the school readiness grant award and the number of operating sites. This amount can be increased by the amount of local funding provided for coordination, program evaluation, and administration, up to $ 25,000.

33 — SCHOOL READINESS PER CHILD GRANT

The act freezes the maximum per-child cost of the SDE's school readiness program at the FY 09 level of $ 8,346.

34 — GRANT FOR THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF WEST HARTFORD

The bill reverses changes made in the bond bill (HB 7004) to the language of an existing bond authorization for a $ 500,000 grant for the Children's Museum of West Hartford.

This bill designates the town of West Hartford, rather than the Children's Museum of West Hartford, as the grant recipient. It also limits the grant's purposes to site acquisition and improvements for the Science Center of Connecticut, instead of also allowing funds to be used for planning and development, including site acquisition, construction, renovation, capital equipment, improvements, and relocation.

35 — SUPPLEMENTAL PRIORITY SCHOOL DISTRICT FUNDS DISTRIBUTION

The bill extends the FY 09 allocation of $ 2,610,798 in PSD grants to the three largest school districts (Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven) for two additional years, through FY 11.

It also reduces the total annual funding for a supplemental PSD grant to all priority districts by $ 419,549, from $ 4,160,122 to $ 3,740,573 per fiscal year. By law, the State Board of Education must allocate a share of these supplemental funds to each priority district in proportion to its regular PSD grant. The money is in addition to all other PSD grants each district receives.

36 — CHARTER SCHOOL GRANTS

The bill freezes the state grant for students attending charter schools at $ 9,300 per student per year. This is the same per-pupil grant the state provided in FY 09.

37-39 — TEACHER EDUCATION AND MENTORING (TEAM) PROGRAM

Requirements for New Teachers

By law, teachers holding initial (first-level) certificates must successfully complete a beginning educator program in order to receive a provisional (second-level) certificate. The beginning educator program was called the beginning educator support and training (BEST) program but under a 2008 act, the BEST program was eliminated as of July 1, 2009.

This bill requires SDE to establish and administer a new teacher education and mentoring (TEAM) program for beginning teachers that is aligned with teaching principles approved by the State Board of Education. The program must include guided teacher support and coaching by teacher mentors and require beginning teachers to complete five instructional modules to help them develop particular teaching skills. Local and regional school districts, regional educational service centers (RESCs), unions representing certified employees, and public colleges and universities must cooperate with the department in developing and administering the program, recruiting and training mentor teachers, and evaluating and assessing beginning teachers.

Under the bill, the TEAM Program replaces the BEST program as the beginning educator program required for provisional certification.

State Responsibilities

SDE must establish and administer the TEAM program. The bill requires SDE to:

1. develop goals for teacher training, mentoring, professional development, and evaluation;

2. distribute state funding to school districts to help them implement district teacher education and mentoring plans;

3. manage and make available data systems for school districts to establish that teachers and mentors have satisfactorily completed the instructional modules;

4. monitor districts' program implementation, including through random district audits and observation by state personnel;

5. issue provisional certificates to teachers who complete the program;

6. with input from “stakeholder groups,” develop guidelines for creating and approving districts' teacher education and mentoring plans; and

7. oversee an outside evaluation of the program every three to five years.

The bill also requires SDE to collaborate with EASTCONN (the RESC for Eastern Connecticut), the RESC Alliance (an organization of all six RESCs), higher education institutions, and other stakeholders to:

1. develop instructional modules for beginning teachers;

2. provide training and professional development for regional mentors working at the district level;

3. provide training and professional development for district teams and principals in how to design, manage, and administer teacher education and mentoring plans;

4. and provide technical assistance to districts according to their size and needs.

The bill requires SDE and public higher education institutions to work with RESCs to align the modules for beginning teachers with pre-service teacher preparation programs approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. SDE and the institutions must also develop and deliver regional strategies to support mentor assistance programs and train cooperating teachers to work with teacher preparation candidates during their student teaching and internships.

Finally, the bill requires SDE, with EASTCONN, to create a data system through which school districts may access resources and record-keeping tools to manage the TEAM Program at the local level. The system must include templates for (1) districts to write and update district plans and record teacher completion of learning modules and (2) teachers to record completion of module activities and submit written reflection papers or projects. The system must also include links to on-line programs or workshops that are part of the modules.

The bill requires SBE to adopt guidelines by July 1, 2010 for transition to and implementation of the TEAM Program according to the bill and the December 29, 2008 report by the Beginning Educator Support and Training Program (BEST)/Mentor Assistance Program (MAP) Task Force.

School District Responsibilities

Local Program Administration. Under the bill, each school district must develop a three-year plan for its participation in the TEAM program that meets the bill's requirements (see below) and form, with teachers' union representatives, a local or regional coordinating committee or committees to guide its activities under the plan. The committee's composition must be based on the district's size. Each district must develop an annual budget based on its plan and submit it to SDE to receive state assistance for its TEAM Program activities.

The bill also requires each district to:

1. recruit mentors from within and outside the district and assign them to work with the district's beginning teachers;

2. ensure coverage by substitute teachers to allow mentors and beginning teachers to participate in the TEAM Program;

3. communicate regularly with beginning teachers about training opportunities, workshops, and support groups;

4. coordinate the TEAM Program with the district's teacher evaluation and supervision program, but keep the two separate; and

5. through the coordinating committee, verify that beginning teachers have completed the TEAM Program requirements for a provisional certificate and attest to that fact and that the teacher is eligible for the provisional certificate.

The bill also requires districts to ensure that schools (1) administer the state's online needs assessment to establish beginning teachers' goals and priorities for their individualized mentoring plans; (2) review and approve teachers' plans; (3) organize mentoring opportunities by grade, department, or specialty; (4) make necessary time available for teachers to achieve their mentoring plan goals; (5) coordinate mentors' and teachers' activities and schedules to ensure proper implementation of the district plan; and (6) submit an annual report on mentor and teacher activities to the district's coordinating committee for review and approval.

Local Program Plan. The bill requires local and regional school districts to develop three-year plans that incorporate SDE's goals and instructional priorities along with local community and student needs. District plans must include:

1. district information including profiles of the community, district, students, faculty, mentors, and beginning teachers;

2. a statement of three-year objectives related to state goals for the TEAM program;

3. a general timeline for district coordinating teams to meet with the district's central office personnel, principals, mentors, or district facilitators;

4. the mentor selection and assignment process that is based on subject areas, levels, and needs;

5. the process for training and updating mentors in best practices and essential knowledge;

6. a timeline of district-wide mentoring days for observations, individual discussion, small group meetings, professional development, RESC training sessions, and beginning teachers' completion of module-related tasks;

7. the process for collecting, reviewing, and coordinating teachers' mentoring plans;

8. the process for resolving internal disputes over district recommendations to the state about which teachers have completed learning modules satisfactorily; and

9. the resources and budget for the planned activities.

Once a teacher completes the learning modules and successfully passes the district coordinating committee's final review, the school superintendent must submit to SBE the names of the teachers eligible for provisional certificates. The bill bars districts from considering a teacher's completion of the TEAM Program as a factor in any decision to continue the teacher's employment.

Beginning Teacher Responsibilities

The bill requires each beginning teacher to develop a two-year individualized mentoring plan and complete instructional modules in the following five areas: (1) classroom management and climate, (2) lesson planning and unit design, (3) delivering instruction, (4) assessing student learning, and (5) professional practice. Unless the education commissioner provides otherwise, teachers must complete two modules in the first year of the program and three in the second.

The bill requires beginning teachers to work with their mentors to develop planned activities to complete each module. The activities must be reflected in the beginning teacher needs assessment. The activities can be presented (1) by mentors in person, (2) in workshops, (3) through online courses, or (4) by completing a set of readings. For each module, teachers must apply the knowledge gained in a lesson, project, or demonstration of how the activity affected students' learning. Teachers must also submit a reflection paper for each module that summarizes, describes, or analyzes what they and their students learned throughout the module and how it contributed to the teacher's development. The paper or project must be signed by the mentor and sent to the district's coordinating committee for approval.

Mentors

The bill requires local and regional boards of education to recruit mentors for their TEAM programs. SDE, higher education institutions, and RESCs must cooperate in the recruiting.

TEAM Program mentors must have a provisional or professional educator certificate and at least three years of teaching experience in Connecticut, including at least one year in the district where they are currently employed. Retired certified teachers who complete a RESC mentor training program may also serve as mentors. Each mentor is assigned two beginning teachers, although in certain circumstances, which the bill does not describe, they can have three. Mentors must provide 50 contact hours with each of their beginning teachers during the program, with an expectation of approximately 10 hours per module.

Mentors must receive a minimum stipend of $ 500 annually for each beginning teacher assigned to them. The stipend must be included in their total earnings for retirement purposes. (Presumably, this requirement does not apply to mentors who are retired teachers. )

TEAM Program Participation Requirements

Under the bill, teachers who began the BEST Program, but had not finished it as of July 1, 2009 and who teach during the 2009-2010 school year to have their initial educator certificates extended for on year. Such teachers must participate in, and exit, the TEAM Program if they complete two modules during the 2010-2011 school year.

Starting July 1, 2010, teachers who hold initial certificates and who have not participated in any beginning educator program as of July 1, 2009 must complete the TEAM program as follows:

1. Beginning teachers with subject areas or endorsements in elementary education, English and language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, special education, bilingual education, music, physical education, visual arts, world languages, and English as a second language must successfully complete the full TEAM program, i. e. , two years of mentorship and five modules.

2. Beginning teachers working in other endorsement areas but whose primary function is providing direct instruction to students, must successfully complete one year of mentorship and two modules.

Credit Towards a Master's Degree

The bill requires the Connecticut State University (CSU) chancellor to develop a voluntary plan for beginning teachers participating in TEAM to receive credit towards a Master's Degree from one of the Connecticut state universities for successfully completing the five TEAM instructional modules. The plan must include a process for awarding credits, costs for administering the program, and potential funding sources. In developing the plan, the chancellor must consult with the SDE, Department of Higher Education (DHE), the appropriate CSU faculty bargaining unit, and other stakeholders.

The chancellor must submit to plan to the Education and Higher Education committees by January 1, 2011. The plan takes effect on July 1, 2011.

40-47 — EDUCATION GRANT CAPS

The bill caps several state education formula grants to school districts and regional education service centers (RESCs) through June 30, 2011. It sets the limits at the amounts appropriated for the grants in the 2010-11 state budget (PA 09-3, June Special Session). Under the bill, if the appropriated amounts are not sufficient to fully fund the grants, amounts must be proportionately reduced. The caps apply to grants for:

1. health services for private school students;

2. transportation for private school students;

3. adult education;

4. bilingual education programs;

5. RESC operating grants; and

6. special education excess costs, other than costs for state-placed children receiving special education from a local board of education and for whom no home district can be identified (“no-nexus children).

48 — SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS WITHOUT BACHELOR'S DEGREES

PA 09-1, June 19 Special Session, eliminated the education commissioner's authority to waive the statutory requirement that substitute teachers have at least a bachelor's degree. For the 2009-2010 school year, this bill allows school districts to employ substitute teachers without bachelor's degrees, but only in assignments lasting 10 or fewer school days.

49 — OFFICE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD PLANNING

The bill creates an Office of Early Childhood Planning, Outreach, and Coordination within the Department of Education (SDE).

It gives the office the following duties:

1. planning, developing, and coordinating, with other agencies, the delivery of services to children from birth to nine years old;

2. coordinating the enhancement and implementation of the Early Childhood Information System, in consultation with the Early Childhood Education Cabinet, as it is reorganized under this bill (see 52 & 53);

3. developing and reporting on an early childhood accountability plan, in consultation with the cabinet;

4. implementing an outreach communications strategy to families, service providers, and policymakers;

5. beginning a state-wide longitudinal evaluation of the school readiness program, by January 1, 2010, in consultation with the Department of Social Services (DSS), that examines the educational progress of children from prekindergarten programs to grade four, including a reliability and validity study of the kindergarten assessment tool required by law two years ago to measure the preparedness level of kindergarten children; and

6. developing, coordinating, and supporting public and private partnerships to aid early childhood initiatives.

Early Childhood Information System

The bill requires the new planning office to enhance the Early Childhood Information System so it is capable of tracking:

1. the health, safety, and school readiness of all children receiving early care and education from a board of education or any program receiving public funding, in a manner similar to the standardized public school information system the law requires all school districts to be part of;

2. the characteristics of the existing and potential workforce serving children receiving early care and education in any school district or in a program receiving any public funding; and

3. the characteristics of the programs in which these children are served.

Under the bill, the SDE is responsible for assigning a unique identifier to (1) each child, (2) each staff member, and (3) the programs tracked by the Early Childhood Information System. Any local or regional board of education, school readiness program receiving any public funding, or any Department of Public Health-licensed child day care center, including any participating in any DSS program pursuant to the general statutes, must ensure that all children and all staff in such center or program are entered into the Early Childhood Information System.

50 & 51 — EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CABINET

The bill reconstitutes the existing Early Childhood Education Cabinet and changes its membership and duties. Some if its duties under current law are given to the Early Childhood Planning Office, some are eliminated, and some remain with the cabinet.

The new 17-member cabinet will include the following commissioners, or their respective designees: (1) education, (2) social services, (3) public health, (4) developmental services, and (5) mental health and addiction services.

The cabinet also includes:

1. the Office of Policy and Management secretary or his representative;

2. a SDE representative who is responsible for special education programs;

3. a representative from an institution of higher education appointed by the higher education commissioner;

4. the Commission on Children executive director, or her designee;

5. the Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Office project director;

6. a Head Start Program representative appointed by the House minority leader;

7. a local provider of early childhood education appointed by the Senate minority leader;

8. a member of the House appointed by the House speaker;

9. a parent who has a child attending school in a priority school district who is appointed by the House speaker;

10. a member of the Senate appointed by the Senate president pro tempore;

11. a representative of a public elementary school with a prekindergarten program appointed by the Senate president pro tempore; and

12. a representative of the business or philanthropic community appointed by the governor.

The chairperson of the new cabinet must be appointed by the governor from among the members.

Under current law, the existing cabinet is comprised of many of the same members, or their representatives, but the following are not part of the cabinet under the bill:

1. the governor or her representative,

2. the higher education commissioner, or his representative;

3. the children and families commissioner, or her representative,

4. the co-chairs of the education and human services committees;

5. a representative of a local or regional school readiness council appointed by the Senate president pro tempore;

6. a representative of the Connecticut Head Start Association appointed by the House speaker.

Although the higher education commissioner is not a member of the cabinet, under the bill he appoints the member who represents higher education on the cabinet. Also, while the co-chairs of the two legislative committees are not named, the leaders of the house and senate each appoint a member of their respective chambers to the cabinet.

Duties

Under the bill, the cabinet must:

1. coordinate the development of services that enhance the health, safety, and learning of children from birth to nine among state agencies and public and private partnerships;

2. annually by December 1, 2009, develop a plan of action that assigns the appropriate state agency to complete the tasks specified in the federal Head Start Act (P. L. 110-134); and

3. annually by March 1, 2010, submit a state-wide strategic report, pursuant to the federal Head Start Act to the General Assembly and the governor addressing the progress the agencies have made toward the completion of (1) the tasks outlined under said federal Head Start Act and (2) the aforementioned duties under this bill.

The cabinet will operate within available appropriations and any private funding that may be available. It will be located within the SDE for administrative purposes.

Under the bill, the cabinet would no longer be charged with the following duties:

1. performing a statewide longitudinal evaluation of school readiness programs (the bill designates this to the early childhood planning office);

2. developing and implementing an annual accountability plan (bill designates this to early childhood planning office);

3. advising the education commissioner on policies to meet the school readiness goals;

4. developing budget requests for the early childhood programs;

5. promoting the consistency of quality and comprehensiveness of early childhood services;

6. developing minimum quality standards and a range of higher quality standards for all early care and education programs receiving state funding and annually reporting to the General Assembly on such standards; and

7. developing, with Office of Workforce Competitiveness, a school readiness workforce development plan and reporting annually to the General Assembly on the plan.

Also the bill eliminates the requirement that early childhood education providers that receive state funding report annually to the cabinet on the effectiveness of the provider's services.

School Readiness Program Agreement

By law, the education and social service commissioners must develop an agreement to define the duties and responsibilities of their departments concerning school readiness programs. The bill requires the agreement to be submitted on or before January 1, 2010, and annually thereafter, to the cabinet and the Education and Human Services committees. Under current law the commissioners must consult the cabinet in developing the agreement. The bill removes that requirement.

52 — STATE LIBRARY OPERATING GRANTS

For FY 10 and FY 11, the bill suspends a requirement that, for a public library to receive a state library operating grant, its annual tax levy or appropriation must not be reduced below the average amount for the three fiscal years immediately preceding the grant year.

53-55 — REQUIREMENTS REGARDING SCHOOL DROPOUTS AND READMISSION TO SCHOOL

Withdrawal from School

By law, parents or guardians of a child between the ages of five and 17 must cause the child to go to the public school in their district, unless they can show that the child has graduated from high school or is elsewhere receiving an equivalent education. They may consent to the withdrawal of 16- and 17-year-olds from school, if they personally appear and sign a withdrawal form. Additionally, when parents or guardians withdraw a student under this provision, the school district must provide information on educational options for the student.

This bill eliminates the parental consent option for 16-year-olds, starting July 1, 2011. It also requires the withdrawal form to include an attestation from a school administrator or guidance counselor that the information on educational options was provided.

The bill also requires boards of education to include in their strategic school profile the number of students enrolled in a board of education- or regional education service center-operated adult high school credit diploma program.

Readmission of Students

By law, if a student aged 16 or older voluntarily drops out and then seeks readmission, the board can deny the student school accommodations for up to 90 days from the date of the termination. Starting July 1, 2010 for 16-year-olds and July 1, 2011 for 17-year-olds, the bill requires school districts to provide school accommodations to students no more than three days after they ask for it, as long as they seek readmission no more than 10 days after the student terminated enrollment.

56 — IN-SCHOOL SUSPENSION

The act extends, from July 1, 2009 to July 1, 2010, the implementation date of the 2007 law limiting out-of-school suspensions and its definition of “in-school suspension. ” The law requires suspensions to be in-school unless the school administration determines, at the required informal suspension hearing, that the student (1) poses such a danger to people or property or (2) is so disruptive of the educational process that the suspension must be served outside of school. Prior law defined in-school suspension as exclusion from classroom activity, but not from school, for up to five consecutive days. The 2007 law extended this to a maximum of 10 consecutive school days. The law's original effective date was July 1, 2008, but it was delayed until July 1, 2009 in 2008.

57 — CONNECTICUT INDEPENDENT COLLEGE STUDENT GRANT PROGRAM

PA 09-3, June Special Session prohibits any independent college or university from receiving its annual Connecticut Independent College Student Grant (CICSG) Program allocation if it (1) meets students' full financial need and (2) uses a need analysis system that results in determinations of need for individual students that are greater than the federal system. It requires that the Department of Higher Education (DHE) (1) redistribute two-thirds of the unallocated CISCG funds in FY 10 and FY 11 to all other eligible independent colleges and universities and (2) set-aside the remaining one-third for Opportunities for Veterinary Medicine (a grant program for state residents pursuing veterinary medicine degrees).

The bill repeals this provision and requires DHE to reduce an independent college or university's CICSG allocation by $ 500,000 if it returned at least $ 500,000 of its funding for FY 09. It requires DHE to compute the CICSG allocation based on the unreduced appropriation.

As under PA 09-3, June Special Session, DHE must transfer up to $ 500,000 of the set-aside CICSG funds to Opportunities for Veterinary Medicine in FY 10 and FY 11.

58 — DHE ALTERNATE ROUTE TO CERTIFICATION FUNDS TRANSFERS

The bill transfers funds from DHE's FY 10 and FY 11 appropriations for the Alternate Route to Certification (ARC) program (ARC prepares highly qualified mid-career adults to become teachers, particularly in teacher shortage subjects). In each fiscal year, it redirects $ 40,000 to DHE's Minority Teacher Incentive program and $ 266,754 for FY 10 and $ 313,181 for FY 11 to the SDE for regional education services.

The funds transferred to SDE must be used for the regional education services center Minority Recruiting Alliance's study and pilot programs concerning minority teacher recruitment and retention.

59 — SDE SHEFF FUNDS TRANSFERS

The bill transfers a $ 5 million appropriation to SDE for FY 10 from the Sheff Settlement line item to the Magnet Schools line item in the budget.

60 — TEACHING CERTIFICATE FEE INCREASE EFFECTIVE DATE

PA 09-3, June Special Session increased fees for teaching certificates issued by SDE, effective upon passage. This bill makes those increases effective October 1, 2009, the same effective date as other fee in increases in that act.

61 — RESC LEASE GRANTS

The bill eliminates a state grant program to assist regional educational service centers (RESCs) with their cost for leasing facilities for use in furnishing educational programs and services.