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CT Insider: This proposal would increase CT school funding and reduce disparities. Lamont remains noncommittal.

Alex Putterman, CT Insider

February 03, 2023 - 2 minutes

A bill that would increase funding for Connecticut public schools and reduce disparities between rich and poor districts has momentum in the state legislature, lawmakers say, though Gov. Ned Lamont remains noncommittal on the proposal.

Proponents say the legislation, known as HB 5003, would bolster school districts that would otherwise have to cut back as federal pandemic relief funds dry up in the coming years.

"They have federal dollars that are not going to be in perpetuity," Rep. Jeff Currey, a Democrat who co-chairs the legislature's education committee, said this week. "If we are asking districts to make decisions to best support students then we need to be able to step up and do what's right by our kids and continue to provide those necessary resources."

The bill, subject of a public hearing Friday, would fully fund the state's Education Cost Sharing program by 2025 (as opposed to 2028 under current law), while also covering additional costs for high-need students at magnet and charter schools and within the state's Open Choice initiative.

According to an analysis from the nonprofit School + State Finance Project, the proposal would result in more than $250 million in additional state funding to 157 Connecticut towns and cities, with aid to the other 12 remaining flat. The majority of the money would benefit districts with large numbers of low-income students, with New Haven (an additional $19.3 million during the 2025 fiscal year), Hartford (an additional $23.6 million) and Waterbury (an additional $24.8 million) among the largest potential beneficiaries.

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