Malloy’s proposed budget cuts New Canaan schools
Updated 10:31 am, Friday, February 17, 2017
NEW CANAAN — Larger class sizes and higher property taxes could fall on the shoulders of New Canaan students and residents.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget could see New Canaan schools lose $4 million in education grant funding, as well as pay a third of the costs associated with teacher pensions, which could be as high as $4.1 million this year.
According to state Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-125, New Canaan is the third highest contributor of income tax in the state, paying around $225 million a year.
“Obviously, I am opposed to it,” O’Dea said. “I understand the governor has said he wants a fair system supporting the schools, but I think if you look at what New Canaan and other Fairfield County towns send to state of Connecticut, I think eliminating ECS funding and putting on them the reimbursement of payment of one-third of teacher pensions is unfair if you look at what New Canaan sends to the state.”
O’Dea said these cuts, plus the addition of paying pensions may lead to increased taxes or education cuts to New Canaan.
“I absolutely worry that these state funding cuts will impact the quality of education that is able to be delivered in New Canaan,” Carlson said. “With cuts to state funding, I am worried that our local boards will look to cut our budget request, which will have a direct impact on the programming we are able to deliver to New Canaan’s students.”
The school board approved a proposed $88 million operating budget on Jan. 27, a 2.67 percent increase from the 2016-2017 budget. This included more teachers at the high school to accommodate a large incoming freshman class and an ESL case manager. This is already a decrease from the $89 million budget originally proposed by the superintendent. Now, the board may be faced with making even further cuts.
“At this point, we’re reviewing the governor’s proposal with the understanding that it is only a proposal at this point, and that the process of discussion, deliberation, and decision will be ongoing in Hartford over the next few months,” Luizzi said. “For our part, we are watching all of this closely, and I am glad to share that we are very unhappy with this budget’s attempts to reduce financial aid for education in New Canaan and many other districts.”
Luizzi said they will continue to watch Hartford closely.
Carlson said the town shouldn’t be asked to pay when they don’t get a seat at the negotiation table in Hartford.
“Gov. Malloy’s plan continues to shift the cost of education to the state’s wealthiest communities without giving them any meaningful mandate relief,” Carlson added. “The proposal to charge municipalities 10 percent percent the annual cost of a certified teacher salaries without giving them a seat at the table in negotiating pension obligations is just another state tax on New Canaan residents.”
Carlson said inner-city districts are given tax credits that more than offset the additional pension obligations that towns like New Canaan do not see.
“In addition, the governor is proposing eliminating the Excess Cost Grant for special education and replacing it with a 0-55 percent reimbursement rate,” said Carlson. “The high cost to educate special needs students exist no matter where you live. This is purely a shift in education funding to wealthy districts.”