If your state has the nation’s largest achievement gap, you’d think the general assembly would prioritize spending money on opening up educational opportunities for the most at risk students — such is not the case in Connecticut.
On Monday, the General Assembly’s democrat-led Appropriations Committee unveiled their biennial budget plan, which cuts $20.9 million in funding earmarked in Governor Malloy’s budget for charter schools over the next two years.
What’s absurd about these these cuts is that they were done in the guise of “fairness.”
Member of the Appropriation Committee and Co-chair of the Education Committee Rep. Andrew Fleischmann told the Hartford Courant that he felt the appropriations proposed budget “reflects a commitment to the children who have the greatest needs, schools with the greatest needs, and to fairness.”
If the committee was truly committed to helping the children with the greatest needs, then why would they cut funding for two new schools in communities where a majority of students attend chronically underperforming schools?
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, included in that $20.9 million in proposed cuts is the funding for Capital Prep Harbor School in Bridgeport and Stamford School of Excellence in Stamford — two schools that were approved by the state board last spring and are set to open this fall.
As State Director of Families for Excellent School Kara Neidhardt put it, the cuts in funding would cause “hundreds of children to lose their school immediately. ” This is especially the case in Bridgeport where a lottery for the 250 spots Capital Prep Harbor was originally approved for has already taken place.
The two new schools aren’t the only charter school spots at risk.
While the proposed budget plan does retain funding for grade growth at existing charter schools, according to Northeastern Charter Schools Network, the over $13 million scraped from next year’s budget would “jeopardize funding for seat growth.”
Schools like New Beginnings Family Academy in Bridgeport which have over 160 students on the kindergarten waitlist and zero spots, would not be able to expand despite having ample room in their building to accommodate more students.
Here’s my question for the appropriations committee: How is it “fair” to deny hundreds of children access to charter seats already promised by the state?
How is this prioritizing students in need?
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