Earlier today, Governor Ned Lamont released his biennial budget proposal. Included in the $50.5 billion spending plan was no additional funding for the state’s approximately 11,000 public charter school students.
Despite the state having a projected budget surplus and budget reserve of $6.4 billion, the proposed plan does not include the continued phase-in of weighted funding for public charter schools which includes desperately needed funds for English Language Learners, low-income students and students living in areas of concentrated poverty.
Even with the overwhelming support of thousands of families in both communities, the executive budget also does not include funding for Danbury Charter and Norwalk Excellence which have been left in limbo since 2018.
“We are very disappointed in the Governor’s executive budget,” said Connecticut Charter Schools Association (CTCSA) Executive Director Ruben Felipe. “Our students, our families and our communities deserve every opportunity to access a quality public education that best meets the needs of their students.”
Of particular concern is the lack of funding included in proposals for the previously approved charter schools in Danbury and Norwalk.
“We are deeply disheartened that Danbury Charter and Norwalk Excellence have once again been excluded from the state budget,” said Felipe. “State leaders have denied families in these two communities the high-quality educational opportunities they deserve and have been demanding for years.”
“What message are we sending our Black and brown and low-income families when our state has such an abundance of resources and yet our elected leaders still refuse to invest in closing the country’s largest opportunity gap,” said Felipe. “Opposition to public charter schools is based solely on political ideology that is convenient for many people that get to enjoy all the choices in the world but not so convenient for the thousands of low-income and Black and brown families that are being denied those options.”
Felipe says that CTCSA will continue to fight to ensure education equity. “We will continue to elevate the voices of our families until every child has the chance to attend a high-quality public school that meets their needs,” he added.
CTCSA’s legislative priorities include for the current session include:
- Equitable education funding for ALL students: The full phase-in of a student-centered funding system that adequately funds all students based on their needs regardless of their race, class, zip code or type of public school they attend.
- Facilities funding for public charter schools: Recurring funding in the state budget for public charter school facilities.
- Equal access to grants made available to other public schools: A process by which any state grant that funds public education explicitly includes language that clarifies eligibility for public charter schools. Improve the funding environment for approved public charter schools.
- Funding for Danbury and Norwalk schools: Both The Danbury Charter School and Norwalk Excellence are already approved by the State Board of Education but are still awaiting the necessary funding to be made available. The time has come to fund these schools.
- Grade growth expansion for existing public charter schools: In order to pave the way for charter schools to serve the thousands of families on waitlists, CTCSA supports grade growth expansion for existing charter schools and the opening of new charter schools.