Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy is faithful to his state’s hedge fund managers, who supported his campaigns. But he is not faithful to the children, parents, and educators of his state.
Malloy is offering a nice increase for charter schools, but budget cuts for the public schools that educate the vast majority of students. Perhaps Malloy forgot that the charter sector was rocked by scandal less than two years ago.
Malloy broke his promise to legislators and the public.
“Charter schools have escaped Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget knife and are slated for a $9.3 million boost in his newly proposed state budget.
“But the Democratic governor also wants a $52.9 million cut in funding for special education, after-school programs, reading tutors and other services in low-performing public schools across the state.
“Malloy also wants to rescind an $11.5 million funding increase in the Education Cost Sharing grants for next school year. It is the state’s principal education grant to municipal schools, and the idea of a reduction is not sitting well with some of the lawmakers who helped approve the ECS money last year.
“In order to secure the votes needed to pass the two-year budget last June, lawmakers reached a deal to appease both the urban legislators upset that state aid for neighborhood schools was not increasing and the governor, insistent on increased state funding so two new charter schools could open. The budget agreement upped funding for both charters and traditional public schools in each of the following two years.
“Rep. Edwin Vargas, D-Hartford, one of the more than dozen concerned legislators last spring, is upset that the governor is now backing off the increase for neighborhood schools but keeping the increase for charter schools.
“This was bad-faith bargaining,” said Vargas, a former teacher and union leader. “We swallowed this bitter pill of spending millions to open new charters and the sweetener was the additional money for the local districts. That was the way many of us could bring ourselves to support the budget.”
“It was a very close vote,” he continued, “and had people known that they were going to renege on part of the deal, it might have affected some of the votes on the final budget.”
In Stamford, the governor’s proposal means the public schools will not get the $225,000 increase they would have received, but the new charter school in town will get about $3 million more so enrollment can increase. That charter school and another in Bridgeport are to expand by about 650 seats.
“Other towns in line not to receive previously scheduled increases include Danbury ($1 million), Rocky Hill ($450,000), Shelton ($500,000), Southbury ($600,000), West Hartford ($1.6 million) and Wethersfield ($530,000). These increases would have ensured that every district receives at least 55 percent of what the state’s education funding formula says they deserve when factoring in town wealth and student need.”