Residents and municipalities across the state are feeling uneasy, to say the least, after seeing Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget proposal, which features significant cuts to education in many communities, including Shelton.
Under Malloy’s proposal, Shelton would lose more than $7 million in total state funds and $3.8 million in Educational Cost Share funding, and would be asked to adopt a budget requiring the city to pay one-third of teachers’ pension funding.
The possibility of this drastic decrease in state funding is especially significant because the state requires municipalities to submit their budget proposals before it finalizes its own. This becomes problematic because municipalities could potentially end up allocating money that it doesn’t actually have to departments, boards or commissions.
State Rep. Jason Perillo (R-113) said the governor has indicated that his reason for taking funding from suburban cities such as Shelton is to invest more into larger, more urban communities such as New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford in order to improve the quality of education in those cities.
Perillo, Mayor Mark Lauretti, and Shelton’s Board of Aldermen President John Anglace said this approach is not new to Connecticut and they don’t think it will work this time either. The three community leaders also insisted that the real issue with education in those urban cities isn’t funding but students’ lack of a support system.
With deep roots running into New Haven, The Shelton Herald agrees.
More money in a city’s education fund can buy the latest technology and employ the most qualified instructors to have inside the schools, but nothing can replace the reinforcement parents are expected to provide students once they arrive back home after their day in a classroom.
According to Anglace, Shelton currently pays 91.6% of its own education costs and the state pays 8.4%. The governor’s proposals, if enacted, would make the Shelton share of education’s cost 97.2% and the state’s share 2.8%.
According to Lauretti, the state grants Hartford $7,500 per student for its population of 21,000 students. Lauretti said the state grants Shelton $400 per student.
After spending time in all of Shelton’s schools, it’s clear that the city makes the most of its education funding and the students’ parents realize that their kids are the future and their children’s education is a priority.
Malloy’s budget would also make Shelton responsible for one-third of teachers’ pension funding, which the state previously funded entirely. Anglace said this shift would create a “serious unfunded liability” that would ultimately threaten the hope of returns for Connecticut’s teachers.
Lauretti said these budget issues are especially unfortunate because, although they focus on changes to education, they don’t take into consideration what’s best for the students.