Malloy to Small Town School Districts: DROP DEAD!

12 Comments

Governor’s New Education Policy Would Dictate: 
Small Neighborhood Schools are ok in Cities and Suburbs but not in Rural Communities.

 

If Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” initiative is being driven by Connecticut’s high achievement gap can someone explain why his “Education Reform” bill goes out of its way to destroy Connecticut’s small rural schools?

In another – “what the hell is he thinking” moment – Section 11 of Malloy’s Senate Bill 24 includes language which would threaten the existence of at least 41 small town school districts.

No really – it would!

Here is what Section 11 of Senate Bill 24 does:

Starting in July 2015, the State Department of Education would begin reducing a small towns Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula if the school district has fewer than 1,000 students and their per-student cost is at least 10% above the statewide average.

Of course, many small towns do have slightly higher per pupil costs because even though they are small they must still provide a wide range of services that all schools must have, including a daily hot lunch, physical education, a school nurse, school counselor, etc.

However, since the ECS formula is already based on a variety of criteria including the number of students and the town’s poverty rate, property tax payers in most small towns are already paying a premium to have a small local school.

It’s one thing to provide incentives to urge communities to create regional school districts, but Malloy’s plan uses a sledge-hammer and on-going punishment and the consequences will be to destroy many of Connecticut’s small rural schools.

Malloy’s anti-small town plan will spiral the local district out of business.

Think through what happens:

  • For years, the small town has been working to maintain its local community school.
  • Now, since the cost of maintaining the small comprehensive school means a slightly higher per-student cost, the state MUST reduce the amount of education aid going to that town.
  • The voters of that town, in turn, decide to raise their local property taxes to an effort to keep their local school functioning.
  • This means the town’s per-student cost remains higher than the statewide average so the state – again – cuts their education funding.
  • And the pattern goes on and on – the more the town tries to save its school the more the state of Connecticut punishes the local citizens until they give up and allow this local school to go out of business.

And that raises the question – instead of being outraged, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) and the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) are literally walking away from their members at the very moment those communities need their help the most.

And where are the Democratic and Republican Legislators who represent these towns.

Whatever happened to the concept that people have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to represent their constituents, members and people?

But what is most amazing of all is that this absurd approach only applies to small towns. 

Big cities can have small neighborhood schools, suburbs can have small neighborhood schools —- it’s just the small rural communities who are forced to close their neighborhood schools.

Here is a list of some of the school districts that would find themselves a target under this unfair provision.

 

Andover School District
Ashford School District
Bethany School District
Bolton School District
Bozrah School District
Brooklyn School District
Chaplin School District
Chester School District
Colebrook School District
Columbia School District
Cornwall School District
Deep River School District
Eastford School District
East Granby School District
Essex School District
Franklin School District
Hampton School District
Hartland School District
Kent School District
Lisbon School District
Marlborough School District
New Hartford School District
Norfolk School District
North Canaan School District
North Stonington School District
Pomfret School District
Preston School District
Salem School District
Salisbury School District
Scotland School District
Sharon School District
Sherman School District
Sprague School District
Sterling School District
Union School District
Voluntown School District
Westbrook School District
Willington School District
Winchester School District
Woodbridge School District
Woodstock School District

 

  • kctlyn

    Jonathan, Do you think this is all part of the move by Gov Malloy and CCM towards regionalization even at the grammar school level?  Cost sharing and grants offered as incentives to get those smaller rural communities to regionalize?    

  • am

    I’d say yes Kctlyn.  Six of those towns are regionalized for Housatonic Valley Regional High School. All of those schools are far from broken either.  It’s rather irritating that the governor wants to mess what works up

    • jonpelto

      Well said – its not like these towns are populated by stupid people who refuse to “regionalize” – in many cases it does make sense to have a regional high school —- but if Malloy and his people think you should be a pre-k, k, 1, 2, 3 4 grader on a bus for 40 minutes to go to some centralized elementary school —- they —– I don’t even know the words you use for people who have so little understanding of education. We have an achievement gap – the problem is poverty and language barriers – the problem is not that my kid goes to a small that is 5 minutes away.

      • Guest

        My K and 3 grader go to school IN town and the bus ride is 40 minutes already (shorter one way then the other).  The school is 10 minutes as the crow flies, but 40 because the route has so many stops, turns, twists, and loop-de-dos. 

        That said, regionalization, IMO, makes sense above around 5th grade onward.  I grew up in VA (county government structure) and not only does regionalisation allow resource sharing, but you also meet and grow up with people from different areas, backgrounds, and experiences.  I’m not saying that this is the only solution which should be considered, but there are advantages socially to combined schools.

  • jonpelto

    Still having some issues with the new comment program – this one came in but was hooked to a different post.

    Jonathan,
    Thanks for your wonderful investigative articles. I know it’s tough to be
    the Canary in the Mine Shaft, but your work is invaluable. Don’t stop!

    In the matter of the CT Education Reform: 

    During my 25-yr. career in public school classrooms,  which
    from I have retired only to see my CT pension endangered and my CT
    health care assistance, small as is, plundered, I saw innumerable
    educational shuck-n-jive pros, fire-and-maneuver artists, wanna-be hi-flyers,
    and tingle-down-the-leg messiahs blow through thousand of people’s
    lives and millions of educational dollars.

    There’s a reason Dannel Malloy and Stephen Adamowski are
    such close allies.

    Hizzoner’s blowing through CT on his way to DC and so is
    Stephen.

    • guest

      BINGO, retired educator! Danny and Stevo-O have their sights set on much greener (and even more lucrative) pastures than CT.

  • am

    Most of the above schools do regionalize at middle or high school level.

    • jonpelto

      Thanks for pointing that out. Its frustrating that legislators are being misled or don’t know enough to ask the right questions.

  • meridenite

    Are these small rural towns the ones that show up as red on a state election map for governor in 2010??

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  • am

    At least fourteen of them were blue.  Though I don’t know if I’d go by the 2010 governor’s race as many left leaning independents and democrats didn’t vote for Malloy based on his flawed tenure in Stamford.  I think the entire state was blue for the 2008 presidential election

  • Diddlebug57

    This sounds a lot like the beginning of bussing, I’ve seen it happen in my town, good schools are not bad because they bussed the kids in from the other side of town. Start by regional schools in small towns as the first step on a slippery slope, then all of the sudden they want Trumbull and Bridgeport to become one region, or how about Avon and Hartford, you know that is what they really want.