Implementation of education reforms passed last year will have to wait

A gamut of education reforms passed last year in the state’s attempt to land federal Race to the Top money will have to wait two more years to be implemented, as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed a bill delaying most of the initiatives because of the costs.

“No one disagrees that we need to do more to improve the education our state’s students are receiving, but the reality is that we are working our way through unprecedented fiscal crisis,” a Malloy spokesman wrote in a statement.

The reforms would have significantly increased the number of courses high school students must take and also require they complete end-of-course exams in five subject areas to graduate. That requirement would have begun with the class of 2018 (sixth graders this upcoming school year) but will not begin now until the class of 2020.

The hefty price tag of launching the reforms was the impetus behind legislators overwhelmingly voting in favor of the delay. The legislature’s budget office estimated the increased graduation requirements alone would have cost up to $29 million beginning in July 2012 to hire the additional teachers needed for the additional required courses and to develop the end-of-course exams.

Legislators were counting on $175 million in federal funding to implement the reforms when they passed them, but the state did not win that competitive grant.

“We don’t have the money to implement these,” said Sen. Toni N. Harp, chairwoman of the legislative committee responsible for deciding how these reforms would be paid for. “We hope we are able to find the money later.”