Two Vocational High Schools Could Fall Victim to Budget Cuts

Two of the state's vocational schools could face closure if budget cuts come to the Department of Education during the next legislative session.

The proposal was approved by the State Board of Education Wednesday, and was harshly criticized by House Democrats Thursday.

“I literally read the first headline and I was shocked, outraged, and disgusted all at once," said Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, House Majority Leader.

The 20 technical high schools serve approximately 11,000 students and they focus on skills that could be easily translated to the workforce. That's the reason Democrats pounced on the proposal, saying it comes off as "tone-deaf" just a week after they approved an incentive package to keep Sikorsky in Connecticut, and two weeks after Pratt and Whitney announced it would expand with 8,000 new hires in Connecticut.

"That is the key to our future, so I know the governor and the governor’s office and it’s time for them to stand up and stand with us and fight for the vo-tech schools.”

Governor Dannel Malloy attempted to throw cold water on what became a controversy, saying the proposed closure is nothing more than an idea at this early stage.

“There is no plan to close schools. No one has said to close schools," Malloy told members of the press at an event at Yale School of Medicine.

“This is not a plan, this is not a recommendation, it’s not built into any budget, on the other hand we’re going to have a tough budget. We’re going to have to make changes. Asking my departments and my department heads what they would do and what some of their ideas are I think is good government, not bad government.”

Lawmakers will have to make difficult budget choices no matter what when the legislative session starts because nonpartisan budget analysts have projected a $1 billion budget hole.

Aresimowicz said he is ruling out such cuts to technical schools.

"This is about priorities," he said. "And these schools are a priority."

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