Dozens of charter school advocates rallied Thursday outside the state Capitol asking the legislature to restore funding for the state’s public charter schools that was included in last year’s education reform package.
The state was slated to increase its per-pupil funding to public charter schools by $500 per year in last year’s education legislation. But the increase was cut in December under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s deficit mitigation plan.
Malloy has proposed to restore the increased funding in his two-year budget, but the increase would be delayed a year from the timeline passed in the education bill.
Advocates, parents, and charter school students rallied Thursday, seeking to convince lawmakers to preserve the funding as they craft their own biennial budget. Many came with signs asking that the legislature “Keep the promise.”
Eldren Morrison, a New Haven pastor seeking to create a charter school in his community, said the schools already are doing more with less.
“Charter schools in our state are doing a better job at educating our children with less money. This is a fact and it’s not fair,” he said.
Morrison said the state should not balance its budget by “forgetting the promise that we made last year to our kids.”
Jennifer Alexander, acting CEO of ConnCAN, said charter school advocates want the funding preserved in the legislature’s budget as Malloy had originally proposed it. The Appropriations Committee will be drafting its budget in the next couple weeks. Alexander said parents and advocates were trying to head off any cuts that may be considered.
“Look at what happened during the deficit mitigations plan. Over half the cuts were to key pieces of the education reform. We’re taking that as a signal of what could happen,” she said.
The state is facing a $2.2 billion deficit over the next two years. Malloy is asking the legislature to approve a two-year $43.8 billion state budget that closes the deficit and increases spending 9.7 percent.