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Schools Get Additional Funds

Governor Proposes New Britain gets $3.4 Million more in ECS

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced this week that a proposal to increase the Educational Costs Sharing Grant will give New Britain an additional $3.4 million for education.

“Last year, with strong bipartisan support, we passed an education reform package that invests in our schools and prepares our students for real-world jobs. Today, we are reaffirming that commitment with additional funding so that we can build on the good work being done by our teachers and education leaders,” said Governor Malloy. “We have an obligation to each and every student in our schools to provide them with a quality public education so they can compete in the 21st Century economy. By recommitting these resources, we are taking a giant step forward toward achieving that goal.”

School Board members were happy to hear of the increase.

“I’m very excited that it is above flat funding. Four years of being flat funded and really struggling to maintain the status quo has been frustrating from both a board’s perspective and from the community’s perspective,” said Sharon Beloin Saavedra, school board president. “This would be over 30 plus teachers, which is definitely something that we need. We are looking for the City to maintain its level of commitment so that it is a true increase in our bottom line.”

Saavedra said classroom teachers are at the top of the priority list.

“Our request to City Hall was $20 million, so this $3.4 million would be applied towards classroom teachers,” said Saavedra. “Anything above flat funding at this point sets me dancing.”

Former Mayor Tim Stewart said he was happy to hear the City is getting much needed funding from the state.

“It’s about time the State of Connecticut lived up to its obligations to fund education in New Britain at a higher level than in previous years,” said Stewart. “This infusion of new dollars will lessen the burden on the taxpayers of the city. Until the state totally takes over funding education cities like New Britain, we will always have to make the difficult decisions between funding city services or education. This annual back and forth will continue until we have state legislators that really want to do something about the problem!”

Under the Governor’s proposal, a $50.7 million increase in ECS aid for fiscal year 2014 and a $101.5 million increase in fiscal year 2015 will provide enhanced education aid to 117 cities and towns, as well as focusing aid to Alliance Districts — 30 school districts that educate approximately 41 percent of all Connecticut students.

“I’m glad the governor made this proposal, and hopefully it passes the legislature. The state has been underfunding education for far too long, and this is a step in the right direction,” said School Board Member Anthony Kane. “I hope our legislators continue to advocate for our district so that New Britain is no longer the lowest funded district among our peers. We have a lot of work to do as a district, and money will not solve every issue we have, but it will certainly help to keep our class sizes from growing even larger.”

“I am extremely thankful that Governor Malloy has put education at the top of his agenda, I hope that the legislature will support this proposal and I will be following it closely as we continue through the legislative session which ends in June,” said Erin Stewart, school board member. “This is a potential for smaller class sizes.”

New Britain presently has classes with as much as 33 students in them.

The New Britain Board of Education sent Mayor Tim O’Brien a $138.6 million school budget last month. Cooper has said that even that amount won’t be enough suggesting the budget “should be $148 million.”

In comparison to schools in the same demographic range, New Britain schools have been underfunded on a per-pupil basis for years. Annual per student costs in Waterbury are nearly $1,500 higher per student and Bridgeport spends nearly $3,000 higher per student each year.

“The reforms enacted last year were the first step to begin fixing what’s broken in many of our public schools,” said Lt. Governor Wyman. “This funding structure will ensure that we continue to pursue our goal of helping turn around struggling schools, allowing successful ones to keep thriving, and better preparing students to move onto high school, college, and the workforce.”

The Governor also announced a new collaboration between the State Department of Education and the two teachers unions, CEA and AFT-CT, to enable a partnership between local districts and unions to attract top teaching candidates to Connecticut schools, retain our best teachers, and provide advancement opportunities for teachers over the course of their careers.

Funding for recruiting and retaining top teachers will be allocated to two or three districts through a competitive grant process. The Governor expects to make $2 to $3 million available for these efforts.

This proposal is part of the Governor’s legislative package unveiled Feb. 6.