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Monday, July 18, 2005

Wonder why schools are so bad in Connecticut

Maybe it's because cities are stealing money that was allocated to schools and are using it for other purposes. If you think it's unfair, than you'll like the new law just passed that will forbid towns and cities from stealing funds from education.

From the Hartford Courant:

Taxpayers might not know it, but the state aid sent to cities and towns for education does not always find its way to schools. Municipal officials have been able to divert or "supplant" portions of educational cost sharing grants to pay for roads, heavy equipment and other expenses having nothing to do with education.

A provision tucked into a bill passed in the waning hours of the state legislative session last month is changing that. The added language is putting teeth in the Education Cost Sharing program and giving school officials the leverage they need to claim the money.

"It's basically saying if a town receives additional education dollars, those funds must be spent on education," said state Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, and House chairman of the legislature's education committee. "Unfortunately, there are a number of towns who have a lamentable history of reallocating education dollars for other needs. "


The tussle over the money is rooted in the fact that education cost sharing grants and other state aid for education are deposited in the general fund of a city or town and then doled out to school boards. Because any additional education cost sharing money is not allocated until the end of the legislative session in late June, city officials have the option of hanging on to whatever they receive above the amount requested for school budgets.

"It beefs up the fund balance when it's more than anticipated," said Glenn Clocko, comptroller for Bristol, who estimated that 80 percent to 90 percent of cities and towns in the state use the money for expenses other than education.

"That's the game," said Mark DeNicholas, director of finance for the Winsted Board of Education. "As long as [city officials] zero out the budget in the end, they can manipulate the money."
Makes you wonder how much towns and cities really care about education if they're stealing the money for other purposes.