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State Seeks to Cut Millions from Schools; Greenwich Hit Hardest


State officials announced plans to cut an additional $20 million from public schools to help balance the budget. 

The governor's budget office is asking lawmakers to approve these budget cuts, which are hitting all Connecticut towns and cities.

Wealthy towns are losing the most. Greenwich is slated to get 90 percent less than what it expected from the state.

"It illustrates the fact that the system is broken," said Sal Corta, interim superintendent for Greenwich schools. He said it's too soon to know how the district will fill the million-dollar hole the state's putting into its budget, but he hopes to work with the town to figure something out.

"We live in tight financial times. We are respectful of that -- of the needs of our taxpayers," he said. "But at the same time our taxpayers are also concerned about the future, and the future happens to be those young people who come into our schools every day."

Other wealthy towns are only getting cut by about 50 percent or less, which left Corta asking: What happened to Greenwich?

To figure out how much money to cut from each school district, budget office officials used a formula that included wealth and ability to raise taxes. Greenwich has high property values and low taxes -- in fact, it has the second-lowest mill rate in the entire state. And it gets more state money than other wealthy towns.

The legislature had budgeted for some cuts, but it was unclear where they’d come from. Joe DeLong, head of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said the state should have better prepared districts for this budget blow.

"One of the things the state needs to do is start working with municipal leaders instead of just dropping these bombs on them," DeLong said.

Poor districts are being shielded from excessive cuts this time, but they were hit the hardest by an earlier round of cuts that happened mid-year.

A Connecticut judge recently found the state's school funding system to be arbitrary. Critics say the proposed cuts are further proof that the courts need to step in and ensure that all schools are funded adequately.

Copyright 2017 Connecticut Public

David covers education and related topics for WNPR, and also mentors high school seniors who attend the Journalism and Media Academy magnet school in Hartford as part of Connecticut Public Broadcasting’s Learning Lab initiative.