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Faith Leaders Press Connecticut Legislators On Equitable School Funding

Alan Levine

Sixteen Connecticut lawmakers say they support more equitable state funding for schools that serve Black, Latinx and low income students.

The bicameral group made the pledge during a virtual event with Faith Acts, a non-profit of 70 churches advocating for education. Iona Smith Nze is a member and pastor of Bethel ME Church in Bridgeport.

“The way that Connecticut funds public education is racist and classist. There are vast spending inequities between all of our districts,” Nze said.

A report from the non-partisan group, Connecticut School and State Finance project, finds districts that mainly serve white students spend about $2,500 more per student than districts that mainly serve students of color.

Senate President Martin Looney said he will fight for the most equitable education budget possible, but he needs allies from suburban and rural communities. Lawmakers from urban areas only represent about 10 percent of the state.

Looney said the current education funding model is a result of a compromise to appease towns. The majority of education funding comes from local property taxes, so wealthier communities often spend more on schools.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.