Governor: Some school districts will get funding, others will no - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Governor: Some school districts will get funding, others will not

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Some school districts are getting much less money from the state than they expected (WFSB) Some school districts are getting much less money from the state than they expected (WFSB)
Gov. Dannel Malloy shifted money around in his budget executive order to help 'challenged' school districts. (WFSB) Gov. Dannel Malloy shifted money around in his budget executive order to help 'challenged' school districts. (WFSB)

The governor announced changes to his budget executive order to shift money to school districts he claims need it more than others.

Gov. Dannel Malloy held a news conference on Friday morning around 10:30 a.m. in Hartford.

Malloy announced revisions to his executive order resource allocation plan, which was issued to keep the state running while it operates without a budget.

He said his changes accommodate the restoration of $40 million to private, nonprofit health and human service providers, prioritizing education funding to communities with the highest student needs and $60 million in other adjustments.

Essentially, he said some school districts would get no help from the state, 85 of them to be exact.

See some of the towns heavily impacted, here.

The governor called it a hard decision to make.

“In the absence of an adopted budget from the General Assembly, my administration is reallocating resources to pay for basic human services, education in our most challenged school districts, and the basic operation of government,” Malloy said. “The municipal aid that is funded as part of this executive order reflects the nearly impossible decisions Connecticut must make in the absence of a budget. It will force some of our municipalities, both large and small, to make similarly difficult choices of their own.”

Malloy said he made the following changes to account for the $100 million:

  • Allocating the Special Education Excess Cost Sharing Grant at approximately the Fiscal Year 2017 levels.
  • Providing $1.46 billion in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grants to the communities with the highest student needs and the greatest reliance on state funding. It holds the 30 Alliance Districts harmless and provides a grant equal to the Fiscal Year 2017 level. On average, 22.24 percent of municipal expenditures are funded with revenue from the state. The 54 non-alliance towns with a greater reliance on state funding, above the 22.24 percent statewide average, will receive a portion their Fiscal Year 17 ECS grant, and the 85 municipalities that have a lower reliance on state funding will receive no ECS grant. A total of 25 percent of the ECS payments will be made in early October.
  • For Municipal Revenue Sharing (MRS), grants of $40.6 million will be provided to municipalities for the tax loss resulting from a 37 mill rate cap on motor vehicle property taxes. This grant will be paid in mid-October when there are sufficient revenues in the MRS Account. At this time, no grants for the Additional Payments in Lieu of Tax Grants or Revenue Sharing Grants will be made from MRS.

“This has never been my preferred path," Malloy said. "I have proposed full balanced budgets and also short-term solutions that would alleviate some of this pain. It is incumbent upon state leaders to come together and reach an agreement on a biennial budget right away.”

Read the complete changes to the executive order here.

Many lawmakers feel an agreement on a budget won't be reached until the fall.

The impasse has affected all facets of state government.

Education officials, like those in Torrington, have been forced to make big-cost saving moves like delay the start of school. In Tolland, 15 teachers were laid off. Middletown was also considering cuts.

Torrington School Superintendent Denise Clemons said this latest development will have a "detrimental" impact on Torrington schools. She said "We receive approximately 33% of our budget from ECS.  Without this funding, we would have to redesign our budget to include monumental cuts that would result in an adverse impact to the education of our students."

After 30 years in education, Southington's superintendent said these are the worse cuts ever.

"The bulk of that hit is at the high school where we will offer fewer sections, larger class sizes,” said Southington Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan.

They've already cut 14 teachers and staff, saving about $8 million.

The governor's revised executive order cuts almost three times that, and the district is losing about $20 million.

"For Southington, we are talking about a reduction of just under $21.3 million. That's ridiculous,” Connellan said.

The only bright side is that 30 larger districts with poor students and low test scores, cities like Hartford, Waterbury and Bridgeport, will not lose funding.

School leaders are calling this the “robin hood style of budgeting,” taking from those fiscally responsible districts and giving to the less fortunate.

"Nothing I am doing today is anything but an attempt to run the state or our constitutional requirements,” Malloy said.

Towns as a whole, like East Haven, have enacted spending freezes.

In a statement, Glastonbury Superintendent of Schools Alan Bookman said "The Governor's plan harms the majority of school districts in the state. We need a more rational decision that will have a more moderate and more gradual effect on schools. We need the state legislature to step up and pass a more appropriate budget."

East Hampton Public Schools posted a statement to its Facebook page saying "Governor Malloy should be ashamed of using our school children as budget fodder two weeks before the start of school. The Governor's approach of forcing a budget by scaring towns and families is unforgivable - almost as unforgivable as our General Assembly leaving us without a budget. (Editorial comments by Superintendent of Schools, Paul K. Smith).

In a statement, the teacher's union AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel said "There are always better choices than the governor’s failed austerity policies which would further gut local public education resources. We need to remember that public education is the great equalizer. Further cuts means our students will suffer when their opportunities to learn are impacted. Then everyone loses when Connecticut residents bear the long-term costs of having failed to appropriately teach and support future generations. Instead, state leaders need to adopt the kind of common-sense, fair share approach our member educators have been demanding for the past two years. They need to recognize that only by generating new revenues and investing them in our communities’ shared assets — like our public schools — can we protect Connecticut’s quality of life.”

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