The battle for more bucks is on. Tuesday, 6 pm in City Council chambers education advocates will beseech the City Council to appropriate more dollars for the Board of Education. In advance of the public hearing, the city’s eight-member state legislative delegation that lobbies additional state dough is urging Mayor Joe Ganim and the council to prioritize money for schools. The letter was signed by State Senators Marilyn Moore and Ed Gomes as well as State House members Steve Stafstrom, Ezequiel Santiago, Chris Rosario, Charlie Stallworth, Jack Hennessy and Andre Baker.
The vibrancy of our city is dependent upon the success of our schools and our children. While municipalities continue to navigate their new fiscal reality, it is imperative that we do not compromise on the value of investing in our children’s education.
As lawmakers, advocates, parents and educators, our chief responsibility is to prepare our students for a world in which they can live, work and raise a family happily, successfully and safely.
This starts with giving our students a top-tier education.
There is an achievement gap that persists throughout our school system. It begins with our schools not receiving the funding needed to support the needs of our students and our educators.
This year, the Bridgeport legislative delegation fought to secure an additional $1.15 million in Education Cost Sharing funding for our schools. But for our children to succeed, the city administration and the Bridgeport City Council must work together with us to allocate the funding needed to further invest in the educational successes of our children.
For the past four years, Bridgeport Board of Education has been flat-funded by the city. In the last two years, 198 staffing positions have been eliminated, and educators have been asked to do more with less. Our classrooms are bursting at the seams, as the student-to-teacher ratio continues to increase yearly.
In 2018, the city’s Board of Education was appropriated a $227.71 million budget. For fiscal year 2019, the board requested a $261.57 million spending package. The mayor, however, has proposed a budget of $228.87 million. This minor increase is the result of the Bridgeport legislative delegation’s work to secure the additional ECS funding.
The city cannot continue to ask the Bridgeport legislative delegation to fight for additional state education aid when the administration continues to shortchange the city’s Board of Education. The state and the city need to share the financial weight.
It is incumbent upon the city administration and council to show their commitment to Bridgeport children by prioritizing additional funding for the public school system. Appropriating additional funding to our schools will allow us to provide our students with a quality education and help close the achievement gap.
Our children’s futures depend on it.