Education leaders discuss state budget's effect on schools - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Education leaders discuss state budget's effect on schools

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Schools across the state are on edge and are preparing for what could be on the way -- fewer teachers and larger classes.

State lawmakers have failed to pass a budget, which means school districts have no idea how much funding they'll be getting. Because of this, some schools are delaying their start day and many schools are cutting teachers.

"They told us they had over 400 positions that were either on hold or cut because there was no state budget,” said Fran Rabinowitz, of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.

The association said the lack of a state budget is causing serious concern, and patience has worn out.

"They may have experienced something and they may need a little bit of help. How are we going to be able to answer them,” said Stephen McKeever, a teacher in Middletown, where 11 teachers and staff may be let go.

"It's very disheartening to see people being laid off and can't come in and how are we going to have 26 or 27 kids in a class,” he said.

For parents, there is anxiety. Michelle Harrold is also on Tolland’s board of education, and worries about her daughter Penelope and other children.

"If we have to increase class sizes plus all the other supports it really is detrimental to all students,” Harrold said.

Tolland is laying off 13 people, mostly teachers. Class sizes could be 26 or higher. The superintendent says it's numbers they've never seen before.

Meriden has cut five teachers, and there could be more if there's no agreement.

"It’s time to come together, it's not about a job, it's about our students and families,” said Meriden Superintendent of Schools Mark Benigni.

To save money, Torrington is delaying the start of school by a day. They plan to add it back at the end of the year.

On Tuesday, school leaders stood in front of Maloney High School in Meriden saying the lack of a budget has serious consequences.

"This is a time we should be excited and anxious energized and we are all concerned about the state budget,” Benigni said.

He says there's been a lot of progress at many Connecticut schools. More students are graduating and test scores are higher. He said it would be a shame to go backward.

Benigni also said he worries that when a budget is finally agreed upon and it includes cut, there could be drastic changes during the school year.

"They are going to lose their teacher mid-year and adjust to a larger class size. This is going to be very disruptive at a time when Connecticut should be very proud of the progress they've made,” Benigni said.

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