PA 17-14—SB 910

Education Committee

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

SUMMARY: This act makes the following changes to the education statutes:

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

2. removes certain eligibility requirements for cooperative regional special education facilities seeking state school construction grants ( 2);

3. allows teacher preparation program students to avoid taking the state reading, writing, and mathematics competency examination if they have 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 reporting requirement for 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 Sheff magnet schools and EASTCONN RESC with some payment adjustments in comparison to previous fiscal years ( 11); and

8. beginning in the 2018-19 school year, moves annual administration of the statewide science mastery exam from grade 10 to 11 and removes the requirement that the science exam for grades 5, 8, and 11 be administered to public school students in March or April, instead requiring administration during the regular school day ( 12).

The act also makes technical and conforming changes (including 5-7 in their entirety).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017, except the provisions addressing supplemental magnet school transportation grants ( 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 the boards should calculate chronic absenteeism. Under the act, a student who serves an in-school suspension that is a half day or longer is no longer considered absent for purposes of this calculation.

2 — CONSTRUCTION GRANTS

Existing law makes school districts eligible for state school construction grants to purchase, construct, or reconstruct 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 act removes requirements for the facility to be (1) SBE-approved and (2) adjunct to, or connected with, facilities for children in the regular school program.

8 — INITIAL EDUCATOR CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS

Under prior law, an individual who completed a four-year bachelor's degree program was eligible for an entry-level initial educator certificate if the degree was (1) in an SBE-approved teacher education program, (2) SBE-approved, or (3) from a regionally accredited college or university or one accredited by the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) or the Office of Higher Education (OHE). Individuals were also eligible if they completed OHE's alternate route to certification (ARC) program and took SBE-required and BOR-accredited teacher training equivalents (unless these equivalents were taken at out-of-state institutions).

The act 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 act 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 — SUPPLEMENTAL MAGNET SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION GRANT

Existing law allows the education commissioner to provide supplemental transportation grants to Sheff magnet schools and the EASTCONN RESC for Sheff magnet school transportation (CGS 10-264i(a)(4)). 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 the following September 1 upon completion of a comprehensive financial review by an auditor.

For FY 17, the act allows the commissioner to 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 act delays the deadline for releasing the grant balance in the second payment phase in comparison to previous fiscal years: on or before May 30, 2018 upon completion of a comprehensive financial review, rather than September 1, 2017.