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CT Mirror: End of pandemic funding could spell disaster for some CT schools

Jessika Harkay, CT Mirror

June 02, 2024 - 2 minutes

Whether it’s the loss of a favorite teacher, cuts to services like tutoring or mental health support, or even the complete shutdown of their school, almost every public school student in Connecticut will feel some type of impact from the expiration of federal pandemic relief funding.

For several years, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, known as ESSER, provided fiscal relief to school districts across the country. Beyond investing in academic recovery efforts, schools have also used the funds for innovative teaching programs, school upgrades and temporary contracts to fill staff vacancies. The expiration of the funding on Sept. 30 is causing problems for school districts that are expected to lose between hundreds of thousands up to tens of millions of dollars.

In Connecticut, urban hubs have already been historically underserved and underfunded, and now they’re also most likely to bear the brunt of a painful transition period with budget deficits that may climb upward of $40 million in upcoming academic years.

“This and next year are going to be particularly hard. There’s not enough funding coming in from either the state or local level to make up the difference of expiring federal aid, so as a result you’re going to see either staffing cuts or programmatic cuts,” said Michael Morton, the deputy executive director for communications and operations at the School and State Finance Project, a nonprofit policy organization. “You’re going to see that in [all] districts, but the hit’s particularly hard in urban districts that received the most federal funds.”

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