State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143), Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, celebrated Wednesday’s news that Governor Dannel Malloy had signed her education mandate relief bill into law.

Lavielle authored the bill, HB 7276, with input from multiple superintendents, Board of Education members, and education advocates in order to provide local school districts relief from cumbersome, unfunded mandates imposed by the state. Advocating for the bill throughout this year’s session, she assembled a bipartisan list of 62 cosponsors, and the bill eventually passed 126-23 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. The governor signed the bill into law on Tuesday, July 11.

Among the provisions of HB 7276 are eliminating the requirement for school districts to adopt a regional calendar; requiring the state to survey districts’ use of management and reporting software with a view toward eventually providing a statewide option at no cost to districts; allowing districts to decide how they provide education to expelled students; and allowing districts to focus training in procedures for handling highly sensitive behavioral issues on specially designated staff who have direct contact with students.

GOOD Morning Wilton has reached out to Wilton Public Schools’ superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith and Board of Education chair Bruce Likly for comment and their thoughts on how the bill would immediately impact the Wilton district. As of press time we haven’t heard from either one but will update as needed.

“With this new law, we have done a really positive thing for educators, parents, and students across the State of Connecticut,” Lavielle says. “School districts that have been squeezed by delays, uncertainties, and budget cuts related to the state’s fiscal crisis can breathe a small sigh of relief in knowing that they now have fewer vexing mandates to contend with. The flexibility granted by this new law should lead to savings of time and money for school districts and allow teachers, administrators, and school staff to place an even greater emphasis on serving students.”

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-114) also expressed her enthusiasm for the bill’s potential to provide relief to cash-strapped school districts during the ongoing budget crisis, noting how this bill could lessen the impact of any loss of state funding.

“The innovative ideas in this bill are a particularly welcome development for school districts in our state given that they are right now dealing with grave uncertainties and the threat of funding cuts as a result of the failure to pass a budget this year,” Klarides says. “This law won’t cost the state any money, and while it doesn’t solve all of our problems, it will ease some of the pain. Rep. Lavielle helped the legislature achieve one of its few bright spots this year and I applaud her efforts, as well as the stakeholders who worked to get this bill signed into law.”

“This new law was the product of close collaboration with a wide range of education stakeholders, bipartisan cooperation with my fellow Education Committee leaders, and general recognition that one-size-fits-all unfunded mandates get in the way of our students’ success. I want to thank all of the legislators who helped to pass this bill, as well as Governor Malloy for clearing the way for this significant step forward in good education policy,” Lavielle adds.

State Representative Gail Lavielle represents the 143rd district, which includes parts of Norwalk, Westport, and Wilton. She is the Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and the Transportation Committee.