K-12 Groups Withhold Support for Rainy Day Fund: Gov. Jerry Brown (D) won’t have key K-12 education groups helping him make the case to voters for a bigger and more restrictive state rainy day fund. Organizations representing school district financial officers and school superintendents and principals voted officially oppose Brown’s Budget Stabilization Account, which will appear on next month’s ballot as Proposition 2. It would force the state to save more money. But the education groups say the state is near the bottom nationally in K-12 per-pupil spending, so the priority should be spending, not saving.
$500K to Help Streamline Testing Requirements: Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) announces a grant program to streamline standardized testing requirements for high school students. The program helps school districts reduce the amount of time students spend taking tests. Previously, in cooperation with a national education association, Connecticut released an assessment tool to help school districts audit how they use tests to determine whether they should modify current testing levels. The state Department of Education will release a competitive application to districts this month and will award up to $500,000 in grants.
Markell Invests $5M in Priority Schools: Gov. Jack Markell (D) will provide funding to improve six schools. The $5 million in funding will be given over a four-year period to increase students’ academic performance, provide support systems for educators, and make additional resources available as needed. The districts signed a memorandum of understanding with the state, giving them financial flexibility to develop and implement plans that meet their individualized needs.
State Implements New Juvenile Justice Legislation: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signs legislation to steer juvenile offenders into community-based treatment as an alternative to detention centers. The law provides for early intervention programs and an enhanced pre-court process for habitual runaways or nonviolent offenders. Additionally, the law sets limits for the incarceration of low-level offenders, as well as for how long they are placed in facilities, mandating priority placement for more serious offenders. Lastly, the law creates an oversight council to monitor the new policy’s effectiveness, make recommendations based on its findings, and direct any savings achieved into local evidence-based prevention programs. Most reforms will take effect in the summer of 2015.
O’Malley Increases Access to K-12 Digital Learning: Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announces $4.9 million in grant funding to increase access to the most up-to-date digital learning technology. The Early College Innovation Fund increases college accessibility by supporting partnerships between K-12 school systems and colleges. A companion effort, the Digital Learning Innovation Fund, helps local school systems maximize the potential of new and emerging technologies to improve the teaching and learning environment, as well as to better prepare all students for the workforce of the future. Nine school systems were awarded Digital Learning Innovation Fund grants, which totaled $3.5 million, and will enable schools to utilize new and emerging technologies to strengthen student learning.
Snyder Increases Access to Career, Technical Education Programs: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signs legislation expanding the amount of information available to students and local school districts regarding career and technical education programs. The law requires the department of education to provide materials on the benefits of career technical programs and training to school districts. To assist in offering guidance to students, school districts will receive information on how career and technical education satisfies curriculum requirements, potential career paths available to trainees, and available programs across the state.