Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams Joins Roundtable Discussion with State, Local Leaders to Discuss Education Investments


MERIDEN – On Monday, State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams (D- Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire) joined state and local leaders including Governor Ned Lamont, U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker, State Representative Catherine Abercrombie (D-Meriden), State Representative Michael Quinn (D-Meriden), State Representative Hilda Santiago (D-Meriden), Meriden Board of Education President Robert E. Kosienski, Jr., Meriden Superintendent Mark D. Benigni and Meriden Federation of Teachers President Lauren Mancini-Averitt at Meriden's John Barry Elementary School for a roundtable discussion on investing in educational opportunities for children who have had their education impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meriden is expected to receive $25 million in support from the federal government's American Rescue Plan, passed earlier this year; those gathered discussed and shared potential ideas on how the state can use funds to assist and improve educational opportunities and help the state's children recover from interruptions and increased challenges spurred by necessary changes responding to the pandemic.

“This is the type of collaboration our kids deserve. We must work together to support students, their families and the hard-working staff and teachers at schools throughout the district to give them the best opportunity at success now and in the future,” said Sen. Abrams. “I’m anxious to engage with the community to figure out the best way to maximize these dollars in our district. When you combine community engagement with real time data, you can narrow down exactly what a district, a school and especially a child need. This pandemic has shined a light on the fact we face a lot of challenges when it comes to educating all students to the best of our ability and this money provides us with an opportunity to fund support programs and affect real change.”

Monday's roundtable came as educators and state leaders face a significant challenge in returning students to the classroom amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the closures of many schools, the introduction of hybrid and at-home education models and frequently changing guidelines. Many school districts have seen rises in absenteeism and increased student disengagement, which could magnify the negative impacts that interrupted education has had on local students.

As part of an effort to counter these growing issues, the Governor's administration today announced it is launching a new program to engage with impacted students. The LEAP, or Learner Engagement and Attendance Program, will utilize federal funding to bridge students back into their school communities, support student enrollment in summer camps and learning programs, and facilitate a seamless transition back to school in the 2021-22 school year for families in need. Meriden will be one of 15 school districts receiving aid in the program.