Transfer of vo-tech schools to be delayed for study

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy‘s proposal to give local school districts control of the state’s vocational-technical schools starting this fall will be delayed for study, a co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee said Monday.

“It’s hard for me to see how you can implement a plan before you even have a plan,” said Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford and co-chairman of the Education Committee. “Let’s sit down and hash out the details and create some well-thought-out public policy alternatives.”

Malloy has proposed transitioning the first four of 17 state-run vocational-technical schools to local control during the next school year — a plan that has concerned students, teachers and education officials at the state and local level.

State Board of Education Chairman Allan B. Taylor welcomed the news that the Education Committee plans to require a study before any schools are transferred.

“I think the study is a good idea,” he said. “I haven’t changed my mind that the turnover was too soon.”

Malloy’s proposal does call for a task force to study the financial and staffing implications of the turnover and report their findings by January 2012. Fleischmann said he intends to keep that deadline for the study, but said it is necessary to push back the turnover of the first four schools by at least one year.

“Let’s talk about this after we see what the impact will be,” he said. “We should be moving speedily, but we also need to see the details… Naturally, I am left with some concerns.”

Under Malloy’s proposal the state would shed all management responsibility of the 10,600-student system by July 2015. He does continue to fully-fund the schools over the next two years, almost $150 million a year, but concerns have been raised that this turnover would make the schools vulnerable to cuts down the road. Fleischmann said the study will also develop a funding plan for the schools.