Hundreds of supporters of charter schools in Connecticut rallied on the steps of the State Capitol Thursday, urging lawmakers to restore funding for the schools in the current version of the state budget.
Loquita Bowles has a daughter in an Achievement First Charter School in Bridgeport and said she views charters as the future of her children.
"Charter schools are the answer because right now the schools have curriculum. They have structure and we need to implement this back into the public schools," she said.
The major sticking point between budget writers and charter school advocates is millions of dollars Gov. Dannel Malloy put in the budget that would lead to the opening of two new charter schools in Bridgeport and Stamford.
House and Senate Democrats who crafted the budget removed those funds and all other expenditures that would have gone toward the creation of new magnet schools.
"I understand why they want the funding for charter schools but we’re really trying to balance this budget, especially for some of the services they offer as a state and our public educational systems. So weighing those out, it just didn’t make sense to fund the charter schools at the levels that we’ve previously been able to," said House Majority Leader Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, a Democrat from Berlin.
He said budget talks will continue with the executive branch over the next few weeks.
"I think it will literally be on the negotiating table. It’ll be one of those subjects that repeatedly talk about but I don’t it’s one of those subjects that can actually change," Aresimowicz said of funding for charter schools. "We have a finite amount of resources and we have a fund that we’ve already earmarked that we think is important."
Bowles used the phrase "treason" to describe how she felt about the General Assembly's decision not to support the starting of new charters. She says she's lost faith in traditional public schools.
"The public schools have lost it. It is reality. We need face it. We need to wake up and stick together," Bowles said.