Connecticut Special Session Yields K-12 Funding Increase
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 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.
Democratic lawmakers and Gov. M. Jodi Rell needed a special legislative session to hammer out a budget deal, but the result likely will make Constitution State educators smile: $256 million for K-12 education in the fiscal year that started July 1. That’s an 11 percent increase over the just completed fiscal year, according to Connecticut Department of Education spokesman Thomas Murphy, and the largest hike in 20 years. The state’s biennial budget for fiscal 2007-09 is $36 billion.
Many schools will need to spend some of that largely unrestricted money on new staffing and space. Beginning July 1, 2008, almost all student suspensions will need to be served at school. Public schools in Connecticut issued more than 77,000 out-of-school suspensions in 2005-06, according to the state education department. As of next July, only students deemed too violent or too disruptive to serve their time in study hall will be exempt. The new law also extends, to 10 days from five, the maximum length of in-school suspensions.
But Gov. Rell, a Republican, vetoed a measure that would have allowed undocumented immigrants who have graduated from Connecticut high schools to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.
“I understand these students are not responsible for their undocumented status, having come to the United States with their parents,” Gov. Rell said in a statement. “The fact remains, however, that these students and their parents are here illegally and neither sympathy nor good intentions can ameliorate that fact.”
Vol. 26, Issue 43, Page 22