Education Leaders, Town Officials Rebuke Gov. Lamont’s Proposed Cuts to Public Schools
School + State Finance Project
February 07, 2024 - 4 minutes
Earlier today, Gov. Ned Lamont proposed cutting over $60 million for public schools as part of his budget adjustments for fiscal year 2025.
The funds would be cut from the Education Finance Reform line item currently in the state budget (P.A. 23-204 § 346), which appropriates $150 million in FY 2025 specifically to K-12 education and public schools throughout the state.
The proposed cuts come at a time when students are still struggling to recover from the learning loss they experienced as a result of the pandemic, and school districts and communities are facing significant fiscal cliffs with the upcoming expiration of federal COVID-relief funds.
The governor’s cuts have been widely panned with legislative, education, and municipal leaders coming together to oppose the cuts and rebuke the administration’s broken promise to students, families, and educators.
Below are a collection of statements from education advocates and municipal officials responding to the governor’s proposed cuts and the negative impacts they would have on communities across Connecticut.
“Connecticut prides itself on having one of the best education systems in the country, but that requires continued investment. These proposed cuts will have negative consequences for students’ academic achievement and emotional growth at a time when their needs are greater than ever. The impacts will be felt everywhere, but especially in our most vulnerable communities. If we are going to address the lingering problems caused by the pandemic and our state’s persistent teacher shortage, then we must prioritize the funding necessary to turn things around,” said Kate Dias, President of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA).
“CCM implores the governor to consider the widespread and detrimental impact his proposal to cut K-12 education funding will have on Connecticut’s public schools. Reducing state aid for education will, among other things, exacerbate inequities in education funding, quality of education, and student performance across school districts in Connecticut. CCM calls on the governor to think about Connecticut’s future through the lens of our children, and preserve state aid to education,” said Joe DeLong, Executive Director and CEO of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM).
“The reduction of education funding in the governor’s budget will have a severe negative impact on our students. If the governor’s budget persists, there will be more layoffs, resulting in larger class sizes and lack of emotional support and intervention. We cannot allow this to happen at a time when our students are just beginning to recover from the pandemic,” said Fran Rabinowitz, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS).
“School districts are currently struggling to develop budgets across Connecticut with the loss of ESSER funding. Programs put in place to support students with social and emotional needs shouldn’t have to be put on the budget chopping block, nor should programs set up to address learning loss. The commitment of state funding is critical to meeting student needs and preparing our students for the future,” said Patrice McCarthy, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE).
“By cutting the historic, bipartisan investment in K-12 education made just eight months ago, the governor is exacerbating inequities in our state and turning his back on the needs of students, families, and educators throughout the state, all while placing greater burdens on local taxpayers and town budgets,” said Lisa Hammersley, Executive Director of the School and State Finance Project.
“Districts have been facing fiscal constraints for years. The budget’s promise to fund education last year was essential to the success of schools and students. Our districts and boards of education are already creating budgets with the commitment of money, and to say it isn’t going to happen is outrageous,” said Daniel Pearson, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence - Connecticut.
“The promise made eight months ago to accelerate funding of K-12 education was a recognition of the financial realities public schools face. Removing this funding from the budget is a step backward from our collective goal of ensuring equitable educational opportunities for all students. These funds are a necessity, not a luxury,” said Kara Neidhardt, Interim Executive Director of the Connecticut Charter Schools Association.
“With a majority of our underserved children without access to quality Pre-K, and just 45.5% of children reading proficiently by 3rd grade — including only a quarter of Black and brown students — this proposed budget adjustment asks Connecticut residents to decide between one critical learning and developmental stage over another. If approved by the legislature, this would be a setback for learners of all ages. Last year, through a bipartisan budget, Connecticut leaders agreed to invest in our future. This year, we must build on that promise to support more children, not fewer,” said Steven Hernández, Executive Director of ConnCAN.
“The governor’s proposed cuts would devastate our most vulnerable public schools — right as they are beginning to pick themselves back up in the wake of the pandemic. If Connecticut leadership is committed to investing in our future, they must follow through on the promises they made just eight months ago, to do right by our kids,” said Duanecia Evans Clark, Executive Vice President of Strategy at FaithActs for Education.