No state budget equals suffering for cities, towns and school districts. As a result the Connecticut Education Association that represent school teachers is seeking an injunction against the state for “defaulting on its constitutional duty, jeopardizing students’ futures, putting cities and towns at risk.” Without a state budget for more than three months, Governor Dan Malloy is operating state finances under executive order. The state’s troubled 30 Alliance District towns that includes Bridgeport would be flat funded from last year. The CEA asserts the governor’s executive order violates state law.
CEA news release:
The Connecticut Education Association today announced it is seeking an injunction to prevent Governor Malloy from implementing his executive order and cutting $557 million in education funding to cities and towns. If allowed to proceed, these cuts would leave school budgets across the state out of balance. This would severely jeopardize school districts’ ability to provide quality education, thereby shortchanging Connecticut students’ futures.
“The governor’s ECS cuts are dangerous and would be devastating for students, parents, teachers, and communities across the state,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “They violate state statutes and the state’s constitutional obligation to provide adequate education to public school students. Now that severe cuts are being implemented, we must take action to prevent the potential downward spiral that could further push our schools into chaos.”
Without a state budget in place by October 1, the governor announced that his executive order would go into effect. The order calls for 85 cities and towns to lose all state educational funding and another 54 towns, including towns with high levels of poverty, to have their funding severely cut. The 30 Alliance District towns would receive flat funding compared to last year.
“Without an injunction,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams, “these draconian cuts will result in massive disruptions and harm for students, teachers, and public schools throughout the state.”
The city of Torrington and the town of Brooklyn–which rank high in levels of poverty–as well as teachers and students in these two municipalities have already signed on to the injunction. Other plaintiffs are expected to join the action in the coming weeks. At its October 2, 2017, meeting, the Torrington City Council voted in favor of becoming plaintiffs in the injunction, the same day it received the first quarterly ECS check. That check was for $1.2 million, instead of the $8 million it received last year.
Torrington currently receives more than $24 million in education funding; under the governor’s plan, the city would receive only $4 million. If the city uses all of its budget reserves, it would be left with an $11 million gap, with nowhere to turn for funding.
“The loss of nearly $20 million in education funding would not only impact our students, teachers, and families, but the entire city,” said Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone. “We have already taken cost-saving measures including delaying the beginning of school, implementing a hiring freeze that resulted in reductions of services, and reducing office hours in the city’s recreation department. With additional cuts, vital resources and critical services that our residents rely upon are all in jeopardy of being drastically cut or eliminated.”
The town of Brooklyn voted to join the injunction last week.
“Our small town can’t afford any further cuts, let alone the loss of nearly $3 million in education funding,” said Brooklyn First Selectman Rick Ives. “These cuts would result in the loss of critical educational programs and resources in our city, significant teacher layoffs throughout the current school year, and increased taxes for all residents.”
Brooklyn currently receives more than $7 million in education funding; under the governor’s plan, the town would receive slightly over $4 million.
Torrington and Brooklyn are just two of more than 52 cities and towns that are at the bottom 40 percent of towns in wealth, that are not Alliance Districts, and do not have the funds to cover the cuts to the ECS funding proposed by the governor.
“Time is of the essence,” said Cohen. “If allowed to proceed, essential student resources–especially in towns with significant numbers of students living in poverty–would be wiped out due to the loss of state funding. The state needs to follow its statutes and provide the same education funding grants to our cities and towns as they received in the previous fiscal year.”