July 6 - 12, 2006
By MARY C. SCHELL, The Hartford News Staff Writer
Members of the capital area community gathered at the Hartford Public Library last Tuesday evening to discuss inadequate school funding.
The meeting, which was open to the public, was sponsored by Councilman Jim Boucher and the Hartford Public Library. The discussion focused on the need for greater funding to make urban school systems more successful. The suggested figure for Hartford’s school system was from $500 million to $2 billion.
Panelists and community members expressed concerns that too much of a burden is being placed on the local government to raise this revenue from property taxes. Under this system, they said, the burden of school funding falls most heavily on some of the poorer residents of Connecticut’s cities.
State Senator John Fonfara said he doesn’t believe the goals of greater funding for inner-city schools or redistributing the burden of the property tax can be achieved by legislative initiative alone. Instead, he said, these causes need the backing of a dedicated and persistent governor, because too many legislators are content with the system in its current form.
Lyle Wray, executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments, and one of Tuesday’s panelists, spoke to the non-monetary factors relating to the quality of schools in Connecticut’s four largest cities.
“Money helps, but it isn’t everything,” Wray said, as he referenced studies that determined that siphoning money into school systems is not an effective technique in improving education by itself.
He cited motivated teachers and parents as two of the most important factors in a successful school system. Wray urged parents to voice their outrage if they feel their child’s school is performing poorly. He also said that teachers’ mission needed to be to educate students completely, not to baby-sit them from 8:00 to 2:00.
Other panelists at the Tuesday’s meeting were City Council Majority Leader rJo Winch, Metro Harford Alliance President Oz Griebel, and Hartford PTO Council President Sam Saylor.