Substitute bill would make things the way they were.

When a new law went into effect in July 2010 requiring teacher substitutes to have bachelor’s degrees, Bridgeport schools automatically lost 50 long-time subs from its roster. The economy being what it is, Carole Pannozzo, executive director of human resources, says it hasn’t been terribly difficult replacing them. Still, she is happy to see the state legislature appears to be fast-tracking a bill that would reverse the new law and waive the bachelor’s degree requirement for short term subs. That means, anyone filling in for more than 40 days would still need a bachelor’s degree.

State Senator Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, a ranking member of the legislature’s education committee, said she is all for highly qualified teachers, but said the new law has put a lot of districts in a difficult bind. “We don’t want to have kids in a classroom without the kind of oversite they should have,” said Boucher.

 Pannozzo said her district provides superivision, training and even a “tool” book for substitutes so she supports legislation that would drop the requirement for a bachelor’s degree for day to day substitutes.

  Like Boucher, she wants long term substitutes with bachelor’s degree – or certified in the area they are to teach, if available. She said the subs lost by the new requirement are missed because they lived locally, knew the students and school routines.

 “We have added substitutes to our list but have not filled all of the gaps,” she said.

 The bill was passed unanimously this week out of the education committee and seems to have bi-partisan support. Bouchet is hopeful it will come up sooner rather than later in the session.

 Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, a co-sponsor of the bill, said he has heard from a number of substitutes who hold associates degrees that were suddenly locked out of the market. He is in favor of at least grandfathering in those individuals if not reverting to the way things were. He said former Sen. Thomas Gaffey, who was co-chairman of the education committee,  was the driving force behind the new standard. He is no longer in the legislature.

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Linda Lambeck