Coalition To Push For Increase In State Education Spending
February 11, 2009
Board of education members from five of the poorest school districts in the state are teaming up to tell lawmakers that more money is needed from the state next year.
The Urban Education Coalition is one of a handful of advocacy groups that have stepped forward with concerns about the state education budget. Gov. M. Jodi Rell has proposed maintaining education cost sharing (ECS) grants for the next two years at the current level of $1.88 billion.
But the coalition says that flat-funding would mean job losses and program cuts in the state's neediest districts. Other statewide advocacy groups have echoed the concerns, saying that contractual wages and benefits are still set to increase.
"Flat-funding ECS is a definite back-door cut," said Ken Folan, the chairman of the board of education in Windham, one of the school districts in the coalition. The others are Bridgeport, New Britain, New London and Waterbury.
The Urban Education Coalition, which formed this month in response to budget concerns, will speak before the legislature's appropriations committee at 4 p.m. today.
Jeffrey Beckham, a spokesman for the state Office of Policy and Management, said the department considered education funding "a bright spot" in the budget, and said it was frustrating to hear concerns about it.
"Education funding is getting cut back in a lot of other places, but not [ Connecticut]," Beckham said. "It was something the governor was adamant we do."
The coalition's organizer, New Britain Board of Education President Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, said the group also will ask the legislature to consider waiving state mandates, such as minimum number of school days, to help districts save money in other places.
"Although we're speaking from separate communities, it's one voice of urban education," Beloin-Saavedra said. "Urban districts get the largest grants, so when you're cutting, we take the biggest whack. And our municipalities are the least able to financially fill in that void."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at