With three weeks left in the session, Democratic legislative leaders were meeting behind closed doors Tuesday with the Education Committee chairs and representatives of the Malloy administration, trying to find agreement on the governor’s education reform package.
It was one of the first formal meetings on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education bill since the committee made significant changes to it, opting to study many of its proposals rather than implement them.
Malloy has indicated he would not sign the bill passed by the Education Committee unless it includes changes to teacher tenure.
“We need to make substantial headway if we’re going to have a meaningful package that I can support,” he said last week.
Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, co-chairman of the Education Committee, seemed optimistic that some headway toward agreement was made during Tuesday’s talks, which he described as cordial.
“There are some obvious areas where there’s distance between what the governor proposed and what the Education Committee passed,” he said. “Without getting into the details, to be respectful of the process, I see some progress.”
While Fleischmann said the group was trying to work out agreements on some of the more contentious issues, House Speaker Chris Donovan described the meeting as more of a clarification process.
Donovan said the discussion mostly consisted the parties answering each others’ questions and clarifying what they mean when they ask for certain things.
So far, the conversation hasn’t gotten to some of the more controversial aspects of the governor’s proposal like tying the new teacher evaluation process to tenure, he said.
The group did spend some time discussing the best process for turning over control of a network of schools to Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. Donovan said they were looking at previous experiences like when the state took over Windham public schools last year.
Senate President Donald Williams declined to comment on the ongoing discussions. The governor’s office was also tight-lipped.
“We continue to have conversations with legislators,” spokesman Andrew Doba said in a one-sentence statement.