Charters and Public Schools Fight for Funding

As lawmakers consider the governor’s budget proposal, they're looking at how best to fund elementary and secondary education, creating a debate between traditional public schools and charter schools.

"It's really important that we make solid investments, and charter schools are certainly not the solution, but we are a part of the solution,” said Jeremiah Grace, who represents charter schools throughout the northeast and the Coalition for Every Child.

The governor recommended funding for two newly established charter schools in Bridgeport and Stamford, and overall charters did receive a slight boost because of the new school funding.

Overall, however, on a per-pupil level, charters receive less state funds in Connecticut than traditional public schools. Grace said that needs to change.

"Parents are voting with their feet by applying for these lotteries,” Grace said. “They are currently 8,000 charter school families and more than 4,000 on wait lists. We think it's important that parents have that option to pick schools that best fit their kids."

State Sen. Beth Bye, a Democrat from West Hartford who chairs the Appropriations Committee, has proposed a mandate that all school systems receive at least half of the funding that the state’s funding formula says they should.

"I don't think we've had the courage to fully fund our school funding formula,” said Bye. "We need someone to be standing up for the everyday public schools who've seen virtually no increase for a decade."

Lawmakers will hear more testimony on elementary and secondary education spending during a public hearing Tuesday night.

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