Some municipalities left empty-handed by Malloy’s school funding plan
HARTFORD — Some 33 communities, a good chunk of them from Fairfield County, would lose what little education aid they now get from the state under a budget adjustment plan unveiled Monday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Essentially, any town whose Equalized Net Grand List Per Capita exceeds $200,000 would lose education funding.
In all, nearly $8.6 million would be stripped from the nearly $2 billion educational aid grant. Communities impacted include Fairfield, Easton, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Weston, Wilton and Westport.
Fairfield would lose close to $1 million; Greenwich the mere $33,000 it gets this year.
It is a plan Malloy tried and failed last year to get through the Legislature.
“I trust that our state delegation will work with other members of the General Assembly to come up with an approach that is more fair to all towns and all residents,” Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau said in reaction to the plan. “It does seem the state is looking to abdicate their responsibility for educating students in all our public schools.”
Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, said property taxpayers in the state’s small towns are about at a tipping point.
“Cutting municipal aid and forcing steep hikes in property taxes will very likely push them over the edge,” Gara said.
Poorer districts like Bridgeport and Danbury would be held harmless under the main school funding formula, State Budget Chief Ben Barnes said in a noontime news conference at the state capitol.
The rollout of a planned formula change aimed at redistributing funds would remain intact but its rollout would be slowed down.
Also, the proposal would cut $7 million from a separate priority grant on which districts like Bridgeport depend.
The Legislature, which starts its session on Wednesday, will also be asked to restore some of the planned reduction to community colleges in the second year of a two-year budget which was approved in late October — four months after the 2017-18 fiscal year began.
In essence, instead of a planned cut, the community colleges system would get $2 million more than it is getting now, said Maribel La Luz, a spokeswoman for Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, which includes the state’s 12 community colleges.
Barnes said the administration did not believe the system could sustain further cuts.
“This makes a difference to our community colleges, and we are grateful for the consideration given to our students even though the colleges will still begin to operate in the red in the current year ... and use up our reserves in Fiscal Year 2020,” La Luz said.
Malloy’s plan also leaves the appropriation to the University of Connecticut as is and would pump $200 million into the UConn Next Generation construction program. Another $95 million would go to the Connecticut State College and University building program.
As for teacher pensions, Malloy’s plan calls for paying state contributions into the system as scheduled but also seeks reforms to the formula going forward so as to drastically reduce future required contributions to the fund and given the state the budget stability it needs moving forward, he said.