Bridgeport Kids Stuck in Limbo: Funding For New School Maybe Be At Risk

Here’s a great question for members of the Appropriations Committee: If a school has broad community support, why would you defund it?

Despite the fact that more than 325 families have applied to Capital Prep Harbor School over the past month, this is exactly what might happen.

Capital Prep Harbor, which is set to open this fall in Bridgeport, is one of two schools whose funding is still a big question mark. The other is Stamford Charter School of Excellence.

Even though the State Board of Education approved both schools last year, state legislators are now saying that this approval was only preliminary – thus leaving hundreds of Bridgeport students in limbo, not knowing whether the school they applied to will even open.

While the General Assembly’s Joint Education Committee may have scraped the two-year moratorium from their charter school bill two weeks ago, they decidedly left the door open for the Appropriations Committee to slash charter funding.

More than one legislator has hinted that this might, indeed, happen.

Co-Chair of the Education Committee Gayle Slossberg indicated to the Connecticut Mirror that funding for the two new charter schools was not set in stone.

“We still have the ability to say yes or no, based on whether we fund or not, so we have the ability to effectuate a moratorium if we so choose anyway,” said Slossberg.

This point was drove home by fellow Education Committee co-chair Andrew Fleischmann who, according to the Connecticut Mirror, scolded Interim Commissioner of Education Dianna Roberge-Wentzell at a budget meeting a month ago after she spoke about the new schools as a done deal.

“I would appreciate it if in future testimony, public statements and so forth, you’re clear to all charter applicants, charter operators that no school is opening in a given school year unless the General Assembly has decided to fund it,” said Fleischmann.

What makes a cut in charter funding even more likely is that Education Committee co-chairs aren’t alone. Co-Chair of the Joint Appropriations Committee Sen. Beth Bye, has been an outspoken opponent to opening these new schools, calling the approval of them an “outrage” last year according to the Connecticut Mirror.

She was also among several appropriations committee members to sponsor the original charter moratorium bill.

Dr. Steve Perry, Principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford and founder of the new Capital Prep Harbor, remains hopeful that the legislature will fund the school.

“The only reason there’s a question about funding is because people don’t realize there are thousands of families trying to get out of these failing schools.”



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