Governor Lamont Announces Deployment of More Than $16 Million To Support Local Special Education COVID-19 Recovery Efforts
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Acting Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker today visited Regional School District 17 in Higganum to highlight the more than $16 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II (ESSER II) funds that are being made available to assist 170 school districts across Connecticut with delivering special education services to more than 80,000 students during the 2021-22 school year.
“These funds are an important way to provide needed resources to special education programs throughout Connecticut and ensure that all of our students have equal access to the education they deserve,” Governor Lamont said.
“The Connecticut State Department of Education’s longstanding commitment to equitable access to education for all of our students drives the work of our department,” Acting Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “We are committed to leveraging all available resources to help our district partners meet the needs of their school communities in innovative ways, which is why we are deploying this funding to support targeted educational recovery for students with disabilities.”
“From the first day of this pandemic, the Connecticut State Department of Education has been committed to supporting students with disabilities as they navigate the challenges of this pandemic,” Bryan Klimkiewicz, special education division director for the Connecticut State Department of Education, said. “This commitment is exemplified in our four initiatives, which will accelerate the student recovery process and assist families and educators in building upon the strong foundation that was laid due to their herculean efforts during the previous years.”
ESSER funding is critical to reengaging all students and supporting learning acceleration with the different and unique needs of students in mind, such as students with disabilities. The Connecticut State Department of Education is using its ESSER II state set-aside to supplement local special education COVID-19 recovery efforts through several initiatives piloted last school year by several districts, including Regional School District 17. The district is also innovating and expanding capacity by engaging stakeholders to address the needs of students with disabilities using their local ESSER II funds. During the 2021-22 school year, four main initiatives will be coordinated by the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education (BSE) to assist in providing services to students with disabilities and their families. These include:
- Addressing Delayed, Interrupted, Suspended or Inaccessible Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Supports and Services: Up to $13 million in funds will assist districts with addressing delayed, interrupted, suspended, or inaccessible IEP supports and services for students with IEPs in each school district.
- Special Education Evaluations: Up to $1 million in funds will increase the capacity of state’s six Regional Educational Service Centers (RESC) to assist school districts in conducting special education evaluations, which will benefit approximately 240 students, as well as planning and placement teams.
- Supplementary Tutoring and Reading Instruction: Up to $2 million in funds will assist 170 districts with supporting supplementary tutoring and reading instruction to address the needs of 3,092 students with an IEP and a primary disability category of SLD/dyslexia in alignment with the reading goals in the student’s current IEP.
- Individualized In-Home Support for High Needs Students: Up to $272,000 in funds will provide for 8,000 hours of individualized in-home support through partnership with the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services to provide 1:1 in-home assistance and support for up to 200 students with high needs.
Governor Lamont and Acting Commissioner Russell-Tucker also visited the site of Haddam-Killingworth Recreation Department’s summer camp, located on the campus of Regional School District 17’s high school. The Haddam-Killingworth Recreation Department is one of 235 programs statewide that are receiving grants through the Connecticut State Department of Education’s set-aside of COVID-19 recovery funds to deliver affordable high-quality educational and recreational opportunities this summer.
In total, the grants have already expanded access to enrichment experiences for more than 50,000 students in Connecticut, with an emphasis on children and communities most impacted by the pandemic. Many summer programs continue to have open enrollment, and families still have time to find many financially accessible options on their area.