OLR Bill Analysis

SB 910

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

SUMMARY

This bill makes several changes to the education statutes, including the following:

1. removes any in-school suspension of a half day or more from the calculations of student absences done by local and regional boards of education ( 1);

2. removes certain requirements for cooperative regional special education facilities to be eligible for state school construction grants ( 2);

3. allows teacher preparation program students to avoid taking the state competency examination if they have a qualified for a waiver based on criteria established by the State Board of Education (SBE) ( 3);

4. removes obsolete language from the law allowing SBE to issue certificates of qualification and requiring temporary 90-day teaching certificate holders to attend a defunct teacher mentoring program ( 4 & 9);

5. changes the requirements that applicants must meet in order to qualify for the entry-level initial educator certificate ( 8);

6. removes an annual April 15 reporting date requiring regional education service centers (RESCs) to submit Open Choice seat availability to SDE ( 10);

7. continues an existing two-phase supplemental magnet transportation grant to the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) RESC with some payment adjustments in comparison to previous fiscal years ( 11); and

8. moves administration of the statewide science mastery exam from grade 10 to 11 beginning in the 2018-19 school year ( 12).

The bill also makes technical and conforming changes ( 5-7).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017, except the provisions addressing supplemental magnet transportation grants for CREC ( 11) take effect upon passage.

1 — CALCULATION OF STUDENT ABSENCES

By law, boards of education that face district or school chronic absenteeism must form attendance review teams to address this issue. The law establishes the manner in which boards should calculate chronic absenteeism. Under the bill, a student who serves an in-school suspension that is a half day or longer would no longer be considered absent for purposes of this calculation.

2 — CONSTRUCTION GRANTS

The law allows a school district to be eligible for school construction grants for the purchase, construction, or reconstruction of a special education facility that serves students who live outside of the district or attend a private academy as part of a long-term, regional plan approved by SBE. The bill removes the requirements that (1) SBE must approve such a facility and (2) the facility be adjunct to, or connected with, facilities for children in the regular school program unless SBE determines that a separate facility would more greatly benefit the students in the special education program.

8 — INITIAL EDUCATOR CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS

Under current law, an individual who has completed a four-year bachelor's degree program is eligible for an entry-level initial educator certificate if the degree program is (1) in teacher education and approved by SBE or (2) is SBE-approved or from a college or university accredited by the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) or the Office of Higher Education (OHE) or regionally accredited. Individuals are also eligible if they have completed OHE's alternate route to certification (ARC) program and have taken SBE-required and BOR-accredited teacher training equivalents unless these equivalents are taken at out-of-state institutions.

The bill instead allows an individual with a bachelor's degree in any subject area from a BOR- or OHE-accredited or regionally accredited institution to be eligible for an initial certificate, as long as he or she has completed either of the following:

1. an SBE-approved educator preparation program or a program approved by the appropriate governing body in the state where his or her higher education institution is located or

2. an ARC program approved either by SBE or the appropriate out-of-state governing body, and also satisfies either the state's temporary certificate or resident teacher certificate requirements.

10 — RESC DATA REPORTING FOR THE OPEN CHOICE PROGRAM

The Open Choice program allows students from large urban districts to attend suburban schools, and vice versa, on a space-available basis in order to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation; improve academic achievement; and provide public school choice. By law, RESCs must assist school districts in their respective regions with administering the program in exchange for an annual grant from SDE (CGS 10-266aa).

The bill removes RESCs' responsibility to annually report to SDE, by April 15, the number of spaces available for the following school year for out-of-district students to attend public schools in their respective regions under the Open Choice program.

11 — CREC SUPPLEMENTAL MAGNET SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION GRANT

By law, the education commissioner may provide supplemental transportation grants to RESCs for Sheff magnet school transportation. (In practice, CREC is the only RESC that provides this transportation.) For the past four fiscal years, the law has required that the commissioner appropriate the grants in two phases, with the first releasing up to 50% of the grant on or before June 30 and the second releasing the balance on or before September 1 upon completion of a comprehensive financial review by an auditor.

Under the bill, for FY 17 the commissioner could release a higher grant percentage in the first payment phase in comparison to previous fiscal years: up to 70%, rather than 50%, of the grant by June 30, 2017. Additionally, the bill shortens the deadline for releasing the grant balance in the second payment phase in comparison to previous fiscal years: on or before May 30, 2018, rather than September 1.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

31

Nay

0

(03/24/2017)