Teachers, Preschool Win in K-12 Budget
The following offers highlights of the final legislative action during 2006. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Flush with revenue, Connecticut lawmakers this spring shored up financing for the state’s teacher-retirement fund and added $50 million to the budget for pre-K-12 education for next fiscal year.
In a short session that wrapped up May 3, the legislature adjusted the state’s earlier-approved spending plan for fiscal 2007—the second year in the state’s biennial budget—to include $2.27 billion for precollegiate education, out of a total revised state budget of $14.8 billion.
That compares with $2.22 billion that lawmakers had set side for pre-K-12 education in fiscal 2007 when they first drafted a plan last year. It also represents a 2.3 percent hike over the $2.18 billion they appropriated for fiscal 2006.
Among the largest adjustments: $12 million, on top of $105 million already budgeted, for preschool programs in the highest-need districts. The legislature also added $20 million to the $86 million previously approved to help districts pay for high-cost special education services.
In a big win for teachers, the legislature tapped $246 million in surplus money to add to the $563 million in total state contributions already approved for Connecticut’s fund for teacher-retirement benefits for fiscal 2006 and 2007.
Although union leaders were pleased with the increase, they said they plan to continue pushing for a long-term solution to the fund’s growing unmet liability. During the session, they called for an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution that would guarantee ample yearly allocations.
The issue that drew the most attention, however, was the approval of a ban on the sale of soft drinks and other sugary beverages in school cafeterias and vending machines. ("Connecticut Moving to Curb Soda Sales in Schools," May 10, 2006.) The law, which begins to take effect next month, is one of the most sweeping restrictions of its kind in the nation.
Vol. 25, Issue 41, Page 28