Senator Boucher Reports on Positive Actions from the Education Committee

March 15, 2017

As Co-Chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, I can tell you that members of the General Assembly have spent many hours reviewing bills and listening to testimony in an effort to improve education for all Connecticut students. Some of our public hearings have lasted for more than 12 hours each: Some of the most talked about subjects have been the Governor’s proposal to make local communities pay $400 million to the State Teacher’s Retirement Fund, education cost sharing funding, and special education funding.

While members of the committee do not agree on everything, I can tell you that most are in opposition to the teacher’s pension proposal. We’ve also had some agreement on some positive measures that are moving forward.

One bill that would give more control to local officials is SB 711, An Act Increasing The Amount A School District May Reduce Its Minimum Budget Requirement When It Experiences A Decline In Student Enrollment. Legislators on both sides of the aisle agree that it does not make sense to require towns to continue the same level of education funding when enrollment declines. Many communities are past the baby boom and need the ability to adjust their budgets accordingly, particularly as our population ages and the needs of the community change.

One bill in particular that I have championed, SB 911, An Act Concerning Services For Gifted And Talented Students, received a joint favorable vote out of the Education Committee. This bill would require the state Department of Education to develop guidelines on best practices in providing services to gifted and talented students. The department also would have to provide information and assistance to schools and the public regarding gifted and talented programs for students. Our state has some of the brightest students in the nation and we have to ensure courses are available that will sufficiently challenge and engage these students.

A final bill I would like to discuss, HB 7276, An Act Concerning Education Mandate Relief, would save our communities money and return more decisions to our local boards of education. This bill is up for a public hearing on Monday, March 20. Under this bill, districts would no longer have to adopt a regional calendar, would be able to develop their own alternative education programs for expelled students, and could provide restraint training to only those professionals who have direct contact with students.

Removing these costly, unfunded mandates will allow our local elected officials to do what they were elected to do: make decisions for our schools that reflect the needs of our students and communities.

We still have a long way to go before these measures can become law, but I am optimistic that Republicans have the numbers to affect real change for the education community and our state.

Please check my website at and your email for updates on these and other legislative issues. I look forward to binging you more good news from the capitol.