Earlier today, the Appropriations Committee passed its budget for the fiscal years 2024 & 2025. Included in the proposal is $150 million to accelerate full funding of the state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula.
Introduced as HB 5003, this funding will be a step forward in shrinking the racial funding gap for children throughout the state–including those attending public charter schools–by expanding ECS weighted funding to students attending public schools of choice including charters, magnet schools, AgriScience programs and the Open Choice program. However, the amount falls far short of the $357 million needed to fully fund the formula by 2025.
“We appreciate the Committee making an initial investment to ensure that all schools in Connecticut receive equal funding,” said Ruben Felipe, executive director of the Connecticut Charter Schools Association. “But if we are truly going to close the achievement gap in our state–the largest in the country–there is much more work to be done to get a comprehensive, equitable, needs-based funding formula.”
“The conversation now needs to continue throughout the remainder of the session,” Felipe added. “Only the Governor and legislative leadership can make the investment necessary to adequately fund our schools and show our Black and brown students, as well as those from low-income communities, that we’re doing what’s right for them.”
Also included in the Appropriations budget is funding for three new public charter schools located in New Haven, Middletown and Norwalk. Funding for the new school proposed in Danbury was not included.
“Our communities need these schools,” said Felipe. “On behalf of the families who have actively voiced their desire time and time again for more high-quality, public school choices, I applaud the Committee for providing that critical funding.”
“The fact that Danbury was not included, after waiting nearly a decade for funding, is incredibly disappointing and frustrating,” said Felipe. “This sends a discouraging message to thousands of families in Danbury who have taken time from their busy lives on countless occasions to advocate for this funding – that their voices don’t matter. This is bigger than opening a charter school, this is about the needs and voices of thousands of Black and brown families being ignored in favor of appeasing the political whims of a privileged few whose access to choice is already abundant.”
The Danbury community now faces the possibility of waiting until next session to seek the necessary funding to begin serving its students.