The State Education Mandate Relief task force met for the first time today and immediately approved expanding the group’s charge to find ways to provide mandate relief to all school districts across the state, not just those in high-performing districts. One of the topics addressed was how to reduce the cost of the new teacher evaluation process.
Task force member Rep. Paul Davis, who represents the towns of Milford, Orange, and West Haven, said feedback he’s heard from his districts is that implementation of the teacher evaluation process is “very expensive for them to do.” He urged the committee to look at what can be done to “make it more financially effective.” Davis added, “We can do the job in a less expensive manner.”
Fellow task force member Rep. Gail Lavielle agreed that the goal is to improve efficiencies. “Some districts that are very far along in the process are spending twice as much time now doing what they were doing before.” She added, “We are all interested in a top-quality education, but we need to find ways to do a better job of using our money, and in different ways.”
Weston superintendent and task force member Dr. Colleen Palmer said districts need to have “flexibility” because one-size-fits-all mandates don’t work and often require onerous and redundant reporting. She suggested allowing districts to achieve their goals in their own way, through innovation and flexibility.
“Right now our hands are so tied regarding how we must expend limited resources,” she said. “We feel we could do a better job if we had flexibility,” said Palmer.
The group plans to meet again on Dec. 19, and hold a public hearing on January 10, 2014.