We have written about the General Assembly’s Education Committee’s final flurry of activity of approving and advancing bills out of committee. In addition to the bills that we have already summarized, here is a brief summary of other bills approved by the Committee (and which now await action by the full General Assembly).
S.B. No. 429 (“An Act Concerning Authorization of State Grant Commitments for School Building Projects and Revisions to the School Building Projects Statutes”) would authorize state grant commitments for numerous school building projects. The bill would also require that all plans for a school building project submitted after July 1, 2023, provide for the installation of at least one window that opens in each classroom (to be used as a means of escape during an emergency). The bill would permit magnet school operators to participate in the school building project grant program.
S.B. No. 428 (“An Act Implementing the Recommendations of The Department of Administrative Services Relating To School Construction”) would authorize the Department of Administrative Services to administer a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system grant program to reimburse school districts for costs associated with projects for the installation, replacement or upgrading of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems or other improvements to indoor air quality in school buildings. The bill would require towns (or regional school districts) to submit a notice of project completion within three years from the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for a school building project. If they fail to submit such notice of project completion, the Commissioner of Administrative Services shall deem such project completed and conduct an audit of such project. The bill would require the invitation of bids on construction projects to be through the State Contracting Portal. The bill further provides that construction managers shall not be eligible to submit a bid to perform any work on a school construction project.
S.B. No. 226 (“An Act Implementing the Recommendations of The Department of Education”) would extend the term of validity for public school teaching certifications by permitting the Commissioner of Education to reissue both the initial certificate (for someone who holds it but has not taught under it) and the provisional certificate, and extending the validity of the professional certificate from five years to 10 years. The bill delays by one year (from January 2023 to January 2024) the deadlines in the law for the State Department of Education (SDE) and the State Education Resource Center to develop a model Kindergarten through Grade Eight curriculum (and submit a report to the General Assembly’s Education Committee regarding the same). The bill further grants the Commissioner of Education the authority to temporarily waive or modify provisions in state laws concerning eligibility for school feeding programs in response to changes in federal law or USDA waivers.
H.B. No. 5466 (“An Act Concerning Assorted Revisions and Additions to the Education Statutes”) would, among other things, require the SDE to develop a report concerning recovery schools, and to then submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by January 1, 2023. The bill would also require the SDE to conduct a study of the funding process for incorporated or endowed high schools, and then submit a report on results of the study and its recommendations to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by January 1, 2023. The bill would extend the deadline of the Special Education Task Force for finishing its work and issuing report to the General Assembly’s Education Committee from January 1, 2022 until January 1, 2024. The bill would require the governing authority for intramural and interscholastic athletics to convene a working group to study the efficacy of throat guards in preventing catastrophic neck injuries to interscholastic, intramural and youth ice hockey athletes. The bill specifies the membership of the working group and requires it to submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by January 1, 2023.
S.B. No. 427 (“An Act Concerning Various Revisions and Additions to the Education Statutes”) would include Guilford as a participant in the “Open Choice” program for the New Haven region. The bill would also require the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to use funds deposited in the school bus seat belt account to provide a rebate to an individual who has obtained a commercial driver’s license with a school bus endorsement and submitted to a criminal history records check for purposes of employment as a school bus driver. Such rebate shall be in an amount equal to the fees charged to such individual for obtaining such license and submitting to such records check. Finally, the bill would establish the state teacher shortage and retention task force. The task force shall develop a comprehensive report that includes recommendations that address 1) strategies to address attrition rates of teachers leaving the teaching profession, 2) the retention of teachers, 3) teacher shortages across subject matter disciplines, 4) the impact of retention and shortages in financially distressed school districts, and 5) streamlining teacher certification without diminishing standards or the professional value of a teaching certificate. The working group would then submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by January 4, 2023.
FINALLY, “STUDIES” (AND MORE?): S.B. No. 230 (“An Act Concerning Public Education in The State”) would require the SDE to conduct “a study of public education in Connecticut’ and submit a report of the results of the study to the General Assembly’s Education Committee by May 26, 2022. Similarly, H.B. No. 5281 (“An Act Concerning Schools”) would require the SDE to conduct “a study about schools in the state” and submit a report of the results of this study to the Education Committee by May 20, 2022. These may both be placeholder bills.
Bills affecting the schools may also emerge from other committees (such as the Labor and Public Employees and Children Committees). The 2022 session of the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 4, 2022, so stay tuned to see if any of these bills are eventually enacted.