Testimony Before the Education Committee
March 4, 2022
State Director, Education Reform Now CT
Co-chairs McCrory and Sanchez, Vice Chairs Barry and Daugherty Abrams, Ranking Members Berthel and McCarty, and members of the Education Committee–thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today. My name is Amy Dowell, and I am the State Director of Education Reform Now CT (ERN CT).
S.B. 229 - An Act Concerning the Charter School Approval Process
We support this bill, which would meaningfully improve the process of authorizing public charter schools–a process which is currently so cumbersome and complicated that it unnecessarily burdens communities and families. Charter authorization is unique in Connecticut because it both requires coordination between multiple different entities and decouples approvals from funding. Either one of these hurdles would be significant for a community to overcome when it hopes to open a new school that will meet its students' needs. But having both obstacles in place is unbalanced and unfair. This legislation would establish a nonlapsing charter school approval grant account and empower the Commissioner of Education to fund charters that have been awarded initial certificates of approval by the State Board of Education–a step that we strongly support. In addition, however, we ask this body to make the process more fair by removing the "initial certificate" and instead giving the State Board of Education full authority to approve public charter schools. This will allow them to continue their effective practice of gathering community input and vetting the logistics and leadership in advance. When the State Board and local families work together to authorize a new public charter school, the State Department of Education should automatically have the funding in place to meet those needs.
H.B. 5283 - An Act Concerning the Education Cost Sharing Grant Formula and the Funding of Other Education Programs
S.R. 4 and HR 4 - Resolution Approving the Settlement Agreement in Sheff v. O’Neill
S.B. 226 - An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Department of Education