Spending Plan Protects Investment in Education, Marks Step Forward
in Equitable Funding for Public Charter Schools

HARTFORD, CT – On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, the General Assembly concluded the legislative session by agreeing on a spending plan which protects investment in Connecticut’s public school students, delivers a more student-centered funding policy, and brings public charter schools in line with other public schools when it comes to need-based funding. While the plan funds growth at several public charter schools, legislators once again neglected to fund new charter schools in Danbury and Middletown, leaving hundreds of families without the educational options for which they’ve advocated. 

Spending Plan
Through passing an ARPA Reallocation Bill, legislators restored many of the provisions agreed upon in 2023, some of which Gov. Lamont had targeted in his proposed budget adjustments earlier this session. The spending plan protects the $150 million investment in K-12 public education and accelerates scheduled increases in the state’s education cost-sharing grant, funding students based on their need and helping schools in the most challenged districts better serve their students. 

It also assigns policy language to help bring weighted funding of public charter schools closer to being in line with that of other public schools across the state, providing a 56.7% phase-in of weighted funding for charters in the 2024-25 school year. This marks a step forward in ensuring that a student’s zip code does not determine their educational progress. We applaud the work of elected officials and community partners who have gotten us here and hold steadfast hope that the changes to this funding policy can be made permanent.

Seat Growth
The plan also recognizes the demand for new charter school seats across the state by funding 150 new seats across four public charter schools, including a 40-seat expansion of Pre-K through 8th grade at Brass City Charter School, 52 new seats at Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication, 36 Pre-K seats at Odyssey Community School, and 22 seats at Integrated Day Charter School. 

“These schools demonstrated the significant demand for high-quality public education options in their communities,” said CTCSA Interim Executive Director Kara Neidhardt, “This funding will allow their proven curricula to change the lives of even more students.”

Legislators funded these new seats using $1.47 million in existing funds that remained after enrollment reductions at other public charter schools, acknowledging that funding allocated to charters should remain with charters – just as it does for other public schools. However, the limited opportunities for new spending leaves those in Danbury and Middletown waiting another year for the funding to open already-approved charter schools in their communities. 

Legislators and the administration failed to take action on behalf of families who made countless pleas for funding of Danbury Charter School and Capital Prep Middletown, which were approved to open by the state in 2018 and 2023, respectively. Both schools put forth detailed, innovative plans to address the needs of students, earned strong community support, and demonstrated that support in legislative hearings and events at the State Capitol. These schools aim to deliver high-quality, tuition-free public school options that will empower predominantly Black and brown families to decide which option will best fit their students’ individual needs – all without impacting the state and local funding of their community’s other public schools. 

“The decision to exclude funding for these schools ignores the pleas of these communities,” Neidhardt added, “CTCSA will continue to join advocates and families in fighting for funding of these much-needed educational options.”

Other Key Legislation
In this session, legislators passed a bond package that explicitly includes public charter schools in Connecticut’s Air Quality Grant funding program. The program helps public schools with making necessary upgrades and repairs to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Despite being public schools, public charter schools had previously been excluded from this program. In passing this bill, legislators recognized that all students deserve clean air and safe learning environments. 

Legislators also resoundingly supported and passed legislation that overhauls the outdated teacher certification process in Connecticut. This new policy eliminates one of the three current certification tiers for teachers and reduces the costs they incur to gain recertification. It also gives schools and teachers more flexibility by expanding certification ranges from Grades 1-6 and 7-12 to Pre-K-6 and 4-12. Read more on this new policy here.

The actions in this legislative session bring us closer to delivering on the needs of every Connecticut student and further build upon the progress of Connecticut’s public charter school sector in recent years. Through a more student-centered funding policy, our state can better address educational challenges in communities of highest need. 

While more students will now have access to a public charter school option in their communities, there is more work to be done to deliver similar options to families in Danbury and Middletown, along with the more than 5,000 students waiting for seats at public charter schools across the state each of the last 5 years. With millions in federal Charter Schools Program Grant funds available in Connecticut, we look forward to advocating for policies that will lay the groundwork for continued growth. We thank all of those who advocated on behalf of our students as we continue progress to a shared goal of educational equity for all.

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