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Needleman: Funding for Special Ed. services, CT Minimum Wage increase

By Norm Needleman, State Senator.

(August 4, 2021) — I hope you are staying safe and healthy. Our schools, students, and teachers have been resilient in navigating the ongoing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is incumbent on us that we make resources available to assist school districts and students, especially those who have been most impacted by the pandemic’s effects on education. This week in Higganum, I joined Governor Lamont, Connecticut Acting Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker, state representatives Christine Goupil and Christine Palm, and local leaders to highlight the over $16 million in school relief funding that will assist Connecticut schools in providing special education services during the 2021-22 school year.

Needleman, Russell-Tucker & Lamont at HKHS

This substantial support in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II (ESSER II) funds for special education services will be directed through several initiatives that were piloted last school year by several school districts, including Regional School District 17.

This coming school year, four main initiatives will be coordinated by the Connecticut Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education to assist in providing services to students with disabilities and their families.

  • Assist districts with addressing delayed, interrupted, suspended, or inaccessible individualized education plan (IEP) supports and services for students with IEPs
  • Increase the capacity of Connecticut’s six Regional Educational Service Centers (RESC) to assist school districts in conducting special education evaluations
  • Supporting supplementary tutoring and reading instruction
  • Provide individualized 1:1 in-home assistance and support for students with high needs

Click here to learn more about these four initiatives and funding to support the delivering of special education services to more than 80,000 students.

Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics in Portland, Colchester, and East Haddam

The Chatham Health District continues to work with local providers and partners to make COVID-19 vaccinations available at local community events, and vaccination clinics will continue in coming weeks. Through a partnership with Walgreens and Community Health Center, the Health District can offer free vaccines to all attendees 12 and older, with those receiving their first dose eligible to receive a $25 Walgreens giftcard. Here’s a schedule of upcoming clinics at local August events:

  • Portland Housing Authority, 208 Main Street, Portland – August 5, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Colchester Farmers Market, 112-228 Broadway Street, Colchester – August 15, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
  • Music on The River, 6 Main Street, East Haddam – August 16, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • Lions Club Carnival, 112-228 Broadway Street, Colchester – August 20, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Click here to the view the flyer.

Free Home HIV Testing Kits Available from Community Health Center
and East Hampton Pride

East Hampton Pride, a community group providing a safe space for East Hampton LGBTQ+ residents and allies to come together to promote inclusiveness and LGBTQ+ rights, and Community Health Center’s (CHC) Center for Key Populations have partnered to offer free home HIV testing kits. The limited number of kits are available to individuals 16+ and are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information or to receive your home testing kit, contact Doug Janssen at 860-347-6971 ext. 3905 or

Connecticut Minimum Wage Increases To $13/Hour

As part of the state’s five-year period of gradual minimum wage increases started in 2019, the minimum wage has increased from $12 per hour to $13 per hour. Signed into law two years ago when the minimum wage was just $10.10 per hour and the result of legislation passed as a top priority of Senate Democrats, this third of five wage hikes is part of a staggered process. On July 1, 2022, minimum wage will again increase to $14 per hour, while on June 1, 2023, the final hike will bring the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Beginning in 2024, the minimum wage will then become indexed to the employment cost index, meaning future rate hikes will grow according to economic indicators.

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