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State Slashes $250K In Education Funds To Bridgeport

The state has slashed tens of thousands of dollars in education funds for the 2016-17 school year.
The state has slashed tens of thousands of dollars in education funds for the 2016-17 school year. Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Local leaders in Fairfield County are scrambling after the state slashed $20 million from education cost sharing grants to towns and cities statewide — right in the middle of the budget year.

Last week, the State Office of Policy and Management announced cuts to every one of the 169 municipalities in Connecticut, with six-digit cuts in the budgets for most Fairfield County school districts.

Installments in the grants are due to go to towns and cities in January and April.

Here are the amounts cut from the ECS grants for each town and city in Fairfield County:

  • Bethel: $119,449
  • Bridgeport: $250,000
  • Brookfield: $126,295
  • Danbury: $250,000
  • Darien: $368,850
  • Easton: $67,274
  • Fairfield: $570,798
  • Greenwich: $1,307,893
  • Monroe: $134,966
  • New Canaan: $339, 295
  • New Fairfield: $95,053
  • Newtown: $186,185
  • Norwalk: $250,000
  • Redding: $83,699
  • Ridgefield: $234,100
  • Shelton: $275,040
  • Sherman: $34,351
  • Stamford: $250,000
  • Stratford: $250,000
  • Trumbull: $266,792
  • Weston: $118,045
  • Westport: $443,947
  • Wilton: $202,441

The cuts were more drastic in wealthy communities. In Greenwich, the cut totals $1.3 million, or 90 percent of its ECS grant.

State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26th District) blasted the cuts, where were announced only one day before a payment of part the money was supposed to be sent to towns.

“The holidays are supposed to be a time of giving and promise,” said Boucher, who represents Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

“Instead, these drastic cuts to education funding in the middle of the fiscal year is another rotten apple from Gov. [Dannel] Malloy’s bag of bad gifts. Last-minute cuts to schools and $30 million freeze in money promised to municipalities continues a sadly predictable trend," Boucher said. "The governor is a Scrooge to our communities and children while playing Father Christmas to state employee unions. Happy New Year indeed!”

Boucher also blasted OPM Secretary Ben Barnes, who said the cuts would have “minor adverse consequences” for municipalities, singling out Danbury schools by saying the cuts to its funding are not enough to cause layoffs.

“Secretary Barnes has no way of knowing the budgets for every school district and municipality,” Boucher said. “Most are already operating with lean margins because of years of the state’s fiscal drought and the loss of so many businesses. The overabundance of costly state mandates on our schools and municipalities already eat up enough of their budgets. They certainly don’t need the state tell them how to spend what money they have left.

"I am deeply disturbed at the awful way the state budget is being managed and the collateral damage is doing to services for the disabled, hospitals and schools."

These cuts were not included in the budget approved by the General Assembly in spring. Malloy used his line-item veto power June 2 to change the budget. These cuts were announced Thursday.

Outgoing State Rep. John Shaban (R-Weston, Easton, Redding) said bad fiscal policy was leading to poor public policy.

"In these final days of 2016, Governor Malloy and the majority Democrats have struck another silent blow to local education," Shaban said. "To patch the perpetual budget holes created by years of fiscal mismanagement, the majority cooked a 'municipal aid lapse provision' into the last budget fix that, in turn, allows the governor to cut education cost sharing (ECS) funding to communities at his own behest. Six weeks post-election, but one week before the new nearly balanced legislature gets sworn in, the governor cut another $20 million from education."

Easton, Redding and Weston lost another 30 percent of their state funding for education, Shaban said.

"Despite historically high tax receipts due to historically high tax hikes, our state government once again faces multi-billion-dollar deficits due to historically high spending," he said.

In Stamford, Mayor David Martin said he was disappointed but not surprised by the cuts.

"I am confident that with a bit of belt-tightening, the city can absorb half of the cut to educational funding so that the burden is not entirely felt by our children," he said. "I fear that this is a new reality and it is going to take fiscal responsibility at all levels of government to ensure that there aren’t large tax increases that put undue burden on our residents.”

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