The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) are very concerned about the mid-year cut of $20 million in education aid to municipalities announced by the Office of Policy and Management yesterday. These cuts are schedule to take effect immediately and will result in diminished educational opportunities for the students who attend Connecticut’s public schools.
In the few communities where there is the option of a municipality reducing a school system’s budget mid-year, those reductions will take place at a point in the year when just about all of the non-personnel budget items have already been spent. That means that any budget reduction will result in staff reductions and staff reductions result in diminished programs for students.
While we are aware of the difficult budget situation for Connecticut right now, pulling the fiscal rug out from under 169 municipalities is no way to conduct business. Stability is critical to superintendents and school boards to ensure that programs and services, long planned for, can be continued as planned.
Education Cost Sharing has always been considered a moral contract between the State and school districts. All districts receive funding as representation of the State’s responsibility to ALL students, no matter where they live. Some of the cuts to school districts were so large that they call into question whether that moral contract still exists.”
CABE and CAPSS and their members understand the challenge that OPM has with respect to balancing the state’s budget. School system leaders address such challenges every year. In that effort, however, these leaders have first-hand knowledge of the impact of their decisions on students.
The decision by the governor to cut aid to all districts and some by 70, 80, and even over 90 percent, will make it very difficult for districts to provide the education services students need as we go forward. Accordingly, we stand ready to engage in a conversation with OPM officials with a view towards helping them understand the impact of the decision that was made on the education and therefore, the future lives of Connecticut’s public school students.
Both CABE and CAPSS call upon the Governor to restore the ECS funding and urge the leaders and all members of the Connecticut General Assembly to take all action necessary to protect education funding for all districts.
Dr. Joseph Cirasuolo is Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. Robert Rader is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.