Bridgeport · Budgets · Reform

On Education Funding… It is “Education Blogger” Jon Pelto Who Misleads

“Education Blogger” Jon Pelto is on the warpath again, and this time his target is Governor Malloy, who he claims has not been truthful about education funding.

Pelto, of course, omits facts at whim and chooses instead to speculate rather than provide his readers with sourced information.

Pelto claims Malloy has not substantially increased funding for public education—in his own words:

“What little funding Governor Malloy has provided for Connecticut public schools over the past three years has come with such extensive strings that it failed to provide local towns with real or meaningful options.”

Except, this is not true at all.

In an economic climate where many states have cut back on education spending, Malloy’s administration increased the Education Cost Sharing Grant (ECS) substantially. In the past three years, the ECS went up by a total of $118 million, and is set to increase by $142 million between FY 2014 and FY 2015. [Major Appropriations Changes, Official of Fiscal Analysis; Connecticut Mirror, 12/2/2013]

The creation of ‘Alliance Districts’ also changed the ECS formula. Now, an additional $39.5 million in ECS grant money is earmarked for the 30 lowest preforming districts, including Bridgeport. Thanks to Alliance Districts, more money is being dispersed to the school districts which need it the most.

In Bridgeport alone, the state increased ECS funding by $4.4 million last year and $9.5 million this year (compared to the 2011-12 school year.) [State Department of Education, Education Cost Sharing Entitlements, 9/20/2013]

While the ECS remains underfunded, it’s absurd to say that Malloy hasn’t done anything about the problem when his administration has fought to make sure education reform remained funded and increased the ECS by over $250 million.

Malloy has also increased funds available outside the ECS.

The education reform bill provided an additional $6.775 million for early childhood education, which opened up 1,000 new pre-k spots, including 130 in Bridgeport.

Only three weeks ago the state announced plans to expand the security grant, making a grand total $21 million available to over 604 schools to upgrade their security systems. Three months ago, Malloy also announced another $8.5 million in grants for after school programing. [Governor Malloy, Press release, 7/10/2012; Department of Education, Press release, 11/12/2013; 09/17/2013]

To claim Malloy’s education reform mandates are unfunded is also untrue.

The state released an additional $24 million in technology grants to help towns foot the bill of new computers and other technology costs associated with implementing the Common Core State Standards. According to the state’s FY 2014 and FY 2015 budget, over $44 million has been set aside for talent development and the Common Core, which will go to help implement the new state-wide teacher’s evaluation system. [The Daily Voice, 11/25/2013]

Pelto vaguely claims that increased state funding has come with “such extensive strings;” but what does that really mean?

Is he talking about the state requiring Alliance Districts to provide tiered intervention plans to turnaround schools? Does he mean Commissioners Network schools, which must develop an approved turnaround plan? Or the fact that towns must come up with a certain percentage of funding in order to meet the ECS funding requirements? [Guidelines for the Alliance Districts May 2013]

All of these “strings” seem appropriate if you consider the investment taxpayers put into schools.

My question: Wouldn’t it be irresponsible for the state NOT to require district accountability?



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