November 26, 2008

City hopes to gain millions in education funding

Claiming that state education aid has fallen as much as $23 million short during the past dozen years, the city is joining in a lawsuit that aims to force Connecticut to fund its schools more fully and fairly.

With the state Supreme Court expected to rule soon on the case brought by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, city officials said they need to sign on in order to make sure that Bristol shares in the bounty if the ruling opens the door to a massive infusion of cash into strapped school systems across the state.

Superintendent Philip Streifer said that the existing state education cost sharing system is “grossly underfunded” and has failed to address the inequities in public schooling across the state.

For Bristol, a decision that leads to the sort of wholesale change seen in other states where similar legal cases have already prevailed could mean many millions of extra dollars annually to help educate children.

According the project director for the coalition, Dianne Kaplan deVries, Bristol should be spending more $4,400 a year more per student than it currently does in order to meet state goals in reading and math.

With “an adequate and equitable distribution of state aid,” deVries said in a Nov. 25 memorandum, Bristol could deliver a better education and help hard-pressed city taxpayers at the same time.

The city’s Board of Finance gave its blessing this week to spend $10,000 to sign on as a plaintiff in the case – the school system plans to chip in another $1,500 – in order to ensure that if a court winds up ordering more education money flow to struggling school, Bristol would be on the receiving end.

Streifer said that since a ruling could leave out towns that aren’t a party to the case, which has happened in other lawsuits in Connecticut and elsewhere, it would be a mistake to remain on the sidelines.

“It’s important to be part of this team,” Streifer said.

Streifer said it is “highly likely” that the coalition will succeed in convincing the Supreme Court that children deserve a “suitable” education under state law, a standard that existing state funding is apparently too little to meet.

The state argues in its defense that there is no requirement to provide suitable education and that courts should not encroach on legislative power by dictating more funding for schools.

But many towns, including Plainville and New Britain, have joined the coalition’s lawsuit in hopes of forcing the state to cough up more cash.

The three-year-old case, brought on behalf of 15 students and their families across Connecticut, claims that deficient spending is harming their education in many ways and is especially tough on minority children.

Streifer said the state has already pumped an extra $500 million into education funding in response to the suit, money that could be threatened if the budget deficit keeps rising.

But the money is still running short.

In Bristol, according to the coalition, the state provided 46 percent of the city’s educational funds a decade ago. It now provides 43 percent.

It figures the state ought to provide nearly twice as much money to Bristol as it does now, based on the city’s poverty rates and minority enrollment. That’s about $40 million extra each year, though the city’s overall school budget would also have to rise to provide the level of education sought by the nonprofit.

DeVries said that adding Bristol to the case would help build the political support necessary “to achieve a modern, equitable, adequacy-based, student-needs drive state aid formula that is transparent, fully funded and substantially less reliant on local property taxes.”

For information about the coalition, see its website. To read the legal arguments, see the PDFs of the relevant briefs here.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just another way to keep paying teachers 70k or more a year!

Anonymous said...

And why didn't you go into teaching?

Anonymous said...

"The city’s Board of Finance gave its blessing this week to spend $10,000 to sign on as a plaintiff in the case – the school system plans to chip in another $1,500."

This is tantamount to sueing yourself and a horrendous waste of tax dollars (what's new?)Even if municipalities prevail in such an ill-advised and wasteful action, where will the funds come from - thin air? Streifer is a short timer here in Bristol, he is trying to make a name for himself somehow before he moves on to greener pastures. Problem is he keeps making stupid wasteful moves, leaving a slimy trail that will hpoefully end his career in education. Sooner the better for Bristol taxpayers.

they're your brats said...

Here's a thought...

I think K-12 education should be funded by procreators and only procreators!

Here's why. As a taxpayer who chooses not to procreate, I'm getting ripped off every time I pay this "education funding" tax!

WTF!!! This taxation is bloody unfair!

Me thinks I'll sue the State AND Federal Government (that means you)! LOL!

OBLA-DEE! OBLA-DAH! LIFE GOES ON!

Anonymous said...

"The Confederacy of Greed" rears its head again...

concerned conservative said...

Teacher unions across the state are, even in these economic hard times, looking for raises of up to 8% or more. It's hard to take people like Striefer seriously when considering that.

Oh yes 6:19, we can all just quit our jobs and go through all the motions expected by the state to become a well-compensated teacher. But then who do you think will pay the bills?

Ditto said...

8:05am - things could be a lot worse - we might have to worry about people like yourself becoming teachers - god bless our children.

concerned conservative. said...

8:58 aka Ditto:

Explain to me and everyone else why you would you say something like that? Is it because at this time I don't believe in granting an 8% pay raise to public school teachers at the expense of individuals and businesses?

Open ended comments like yours are almost ignorable, yet I am curious how a simple mind like your's works.

Humpty Dumpty said...

8:05

And who paid their bills?

Guess you didn't want to bad enough.

concerned conservative said...

humpty aka ditto aka 8:58 aka
10:30:

The private sector pays their bills! The individual property owner. Businesses pay with property taxes, capital equipment taxes, fees and sales taxes. Income taxes pay bills. Those who succeed in the private sector pay more and more. You and I (probably I pay more) pay their bills.

Would you mind paying my mortgage and my bills so I can concentrate on becoming a teacher and doing something I don't care to do anyway? I don't care to drive a trash truck but we need trash pick-up people too.

No one is saying teahers should make minimum wage or even twice minimum wage (they do much better than that especially in regards to insurance, benefits and vacations). We just think that there should be accountibilty, tenure should be scrutinized and obscene raises should not be requested by their union negotiators. If the teachers are so great and so smart, why don't they negotiate their own compensation like I do?

Anonymous said...

10:45

Because they are obviously a LOT SMARTER than you are,

You made your bed, go lie in it!

Anonymous said...

November 27, 2008 10:45 AM - well said. The whole system for public education and how it uses its funds needs to be looked at - and I do not see any better time then now to start that process.

Anonymous said...

1:00 PM aka Humpty aka Ditto aka...:

Well them how come if teachers are so smart and so underpaid, people in the private sector leave their careers to become teachers? I have never heard of a public school teacher (since the "education enhancement" act under Gov. O’Neill) leave teaching for the private sector. You know why? 'Cause they couldn't make it!

concerned conservative said...

November 27, 2008 1:00 PM:

Idiots like you are soiling the bed in so by voting and supporting liberals who are bankrupting tax-payers and making Connecticut unfriendly to business. The sun belt is where all the economic growth is and in that region the teachers unions are comparably much weaker.

concerned conservative said...

And the teachers are hurting job security for other public employees by demanding too much from the tax payers in financially troubled times.

Anonymous said...

If you can read this, thank a teacher.

Anonymous said...

Ok and the public school teachers should be greatful to all the people and businesses who pay them instead of extorting more and more from them, especially when times get tough.

And let's not forget all the teachers that did a wonderful job BEFORE THE EDUCATION ENHANCEMENT act under Bill O'Neill that made public schoool teachers vastly over-compensated.

Anonymous said...

I agree, if you want kids you should pay more in taxes to send them to school.. It' the same if you want a bigger house or a nicer car you pay more in taxes..

If you can understand this, thank a teacher :)

Anonymous said...

Teachers and school administrators live in a completely different world from those of us who work for a living. I see it every time I talk to one of them. They're constantly complaining about having to go to work, whether I see them at the banks or in restaurants or shopping during the school day. They start complaining that "summer is almost over" starting in July. They come in to my business at 3:05 and whine about getting out of work late. They run to every little event that takes them out of the classroom.

There is no pride in their work...and how could there be, with test scores always falling and everyone being dumbed down?

We need to change the way teachers are paid. We have to make them accountable and responsible for positive results, and that won't happen until their liberal enablers are thrown out of office.

We have to pay more attention to whose ovals we are filling in on those ballots.

Poboy said...

"The sun belt is where all the economic growth is"

Property values are dropping as fast in the sunbelt as anywhere in the country.

"and in that region the teachers unions are comparably much weaker."

If unions are the cause of our financial problems, how do you explain the fact that organized labor is at it's weakest point in history at the same time that our economy is at it's lowest point since the depression? If weak unions meant strong economy we should be in great shape. Union strength has been diminishing rapidly from the time that Reagan fired the air traffic controllers and our economy has been on a roller coaster ride ever since. Without some type of organized labor, we would all be slaves.

concerned conservative said...

Poboy:

Public sector unions are incredibly strong. The Democrat Party (which apparently controls Connecticut) is controlled by the unions. Almost if not all public employees are unionized. At the same time government keeps growing.

Private sector unions have delined. The biggest reason is that the unions drove the companies out of business or out of the country. The UAW is still strong in the suto industry and is the biggest reason why the "Big Three" are uncompetitive.

Stosh said...

Teacher's Salary

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year!

It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do--baby sit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time.

That would be $19.50 a day ( 7:00 AM to 3:30 (or so) PM with just 25
min. off for lunch).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit
their children.

NOW...
How many do they teach in a class, 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! we're not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET'S SEE....

That's $585 x 180= $105,300 per year.

What about those special teachers and the ones with master's degrees?

Well, we could pay them minimum wage, and just to be fair, round it off
to $7.00 an hour. That would be $7 x 6 1/2 hours x 30 children x 180 days = $245,700 per year.

Wait a minute--there's something wrong here!
Average teacher salary $50,000/180 days = $277/per day/30 students =
$9.23/6.5

hours = $1.42 per hour per student. A very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even try - with your help - to EDUCATE your kids!

WHAT A DEAL....

And the parents don't even have to buy them pizza!

Anonymous said...

Flaw in your comparison: babysitters don't get paid per child. Also, you have not figured in the cost of sixty years (roughly) of benefits.

Babysitting, however, is just about what is going on in schools in many cases. And sometimes we're not that lucky; often our kids are being dumbed down. They're taught biases and revised history. Our schools are in a sad,sad state, and nothing short of a complete overhaul of the system will help our kids.