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Bridgeport schools poised for more state education funding under proposal

Martin Bureau
AFP/Getty Images

Connecticut legislators proposed a bill that would deliver $13.6 million in early aid to Bridgeport public schools for the 2024-25 school year.

Governor Ned Lamont’s proposed two-year, $50.5 billion budget would increase state funding of schools $45.6 million next year, and about $90.9 million more in 2025, compared to this year, according to an analysis from the School + State Finance Project, a Hamden-based nonprofit that collaborates with the state and local communities to improve students’ education.

“School districts are facing a fiscal cliff,” said Michael Morton, the project’s deputy executive director for communications & operations. “We have a dire situation on our hands with students who are struggling to recover from the pandemic’s impacts.”

The bill proposes to fully fund the state Education Cost Sharing program in 2025 — three years ahead of schedule — to offset the decline in federal COVID-19 relief.

The program was implemented in 2019 to schedule how the state distributes aid to schools across Connecticut. Under the proposed budget, funding would increase for historically underfunded districts, including Bridgeport, while towns considered overfunded by the formula would have funding gradual decreases.

Morton said the expiration of federal funding could cause the loss of positions for teachers, counselors, and other staff that help students deal with the ramifications of COVID-19 on their education.

“In the most recent national assessment of educational progress, Connecticut had its lowest scores in history,” Morton added. “We saw math proficiency at the lowest levels they’ve been in 30 years. Average reading scores were all-time lows. Our state saw its national rank drop in every category. These are the actual impacts of the pandemic.”

Morton said avoiding that outcome and assisting students instead would have life-long rewards.

“Whatever path they may lead, this bill will provide them with the resources and skills they need to succeed,” Morton said. “There is no greater tool to build a strong workforce than a strong, well resourced, well funded education system. That’s what this bill seeks to achieve if passed.”

The legislation is widely supported by 70 businesses and community organizations, as well as 42 bipartisan cosponsors in the state General Assembly.

Joseph D’Alessandro is a former news intern at WSHU.