Hundreds testify on several education proposals

Hundreds testify on several education proposals
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 6:31 PM EST
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Education has become a priority this legislative session, and Thursday more than 500 people have signed up to testify on several proposals.

Connecticut faces a teacher shortage.

Busloads of students have been arriving at the Legislative Office Building to show support for charter schools.

These students said they want choice and are asking lawmakers to give charter schools more funding.

But the state’s shortage of teachers is a major concern, and that has lawmakers looking for solutions.

Students made the trip to Hartford to tell lawmakers how important charter schools are.

“I’ve been one of the highest scoring students at Booker and the education is great and more funding will help other students,” said Aiden Deluz, a charter school student.

“More funding will help with resources, more staffing,” said Kenneth Joseph, of Booker T. Washington school.

Connecticut is struggling to attract more teachers. The chair of the Education Committee said salary is a part of that.

“We have a $40,000 wage gap from those at the highest step in various communities. So if you can be the community next door offering that additional money you are more likely to go there,” said Rep. Jeff Currey, Education Committee chair.

Maryland, for example, just set the bar at $60,000 for all starting teachers.

There is also burnout from the pandemic and larger class sizes. There’s also a shortage of math teachers.

There has a been a lot of talk about free school lunches. Federal funding paid for that during the pandemic.

The governor and lawmakers recently voted to use state money for this school year to pay for free lunches. Supporters feel it should be funded permanently because kids are given a healthy meal, which improves learning.

“We don’t know what everybody’s family is like. They may look like they can afford it but they may not, they may have lost their job, they may be living pay check to pay check or have medical issues,” said Lucy Nolan with End Hunger Connecticut.

The cost of free lunches is about $40 million a year, and given the fact the state has a huge surplus, a lot of groups are asking for more money.