Malloy, Democrats reach deal on education reform

Hartford - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced late Monday night that he and Democratic leaders of the legislature have reached an education reform agreement that he could sign. The governor had threatened to veto earlier versions that differed from his original proposal.

The agreement contains compromises on controversial areas including teacher tenure, charter schools and a school turnaround program. Among the highlights:

• Nearly $100 million in new funding for public school reform.

• Significant changes to current tenure system, but full details were not immediately clear Monday night. Starting in the 2013-14 school year, tenure for all teachers must be earned by demonstrating "effective practice," not only years of service. That system will be piloted in a small number of districts this fall. Tenured teachers would be re-evaluated annually to maintain tenure.

• Requires annual performance evaluations of principals, administrators and teachers but does not link evaluations to teaching certification.

• Commissioner's Network turnaround program will allow nonprofit school operators to run up to six of the 25 low-performing schools over three years.

• Increases state charter schools per pupil funding to $10,500 for the 2012-2013 school year; $11,000 for 2013-2014 school year; $11,500 for the 2014-2015 school year. Current funding level is $9,400 per pupil.

The Senate Bill 24 agreement is still subject to approval by the full House and Senate.

Budget deal reached

The Malloy administration and Democratic lawmakers have reached a tentative agreement on a revised budget plan that would address the deficit in the current fiscal year and increase spending for the new year beginning July 1, although not as big a spending bump as the governor first sought.

The proposal, still subject to approval from the full House and Senate, calls for diverting $222.4 million from a reserve fund to help bridge a projected $275 million deficit in the current year. The money in the account was set aside as required by law to pre-pay economic recovery notes issued in 2009 to close that year's budget deficit.

Dredging bill pending

Local marina owners could get hefty discounts off the cost of a future dredging project under a bill that is poised to pass the state Senate.

The legislation authorizes state grants to help marinas afford sediment, dredging and disposal projects. The grants, to be distributed from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Long Island Sound Cleanup account, would cover at least 40 percent of a project's expense. The average project is about $272,000.

To qualify, a marina must be DEEP-certified as a "clean marina" that exceeds minimum standards for pollution control.

Of the state's approximately 260 marinas, 29 are certified "clean" and 20 have pledged to become clean within a year, state officials said.

State Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, supported the bill Monday, asserting that marinas have an important role in the state's economy, especially in southeastern Connecticut.

The bill was placed on the Senate's consent calendar for bills that queued up for unanimous approval. It has yet to go before the House.

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