Malloy’s proposed budget underfunds public magnet schools while increasing money for charter schools

Although many parents, teachers and public school advocates already know that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is the most anti-teacher, anti-public education Democratic Governor in the nation, Malloy’s proposed budget drives the message home in a very big way.

Last month Malloy proposed a new budget plan for the fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2015.

While the Governor used his annual budget speech to brag about his election year gimmick to provide a “sales and gas tax refund of $55 to single filers earning less than $200,000 and $110 to joint filers earning less than $400,000,” Malloy failed to explain that his budget DOES NOT INCLUDE the $18.8 million that is needed to keep Connecticut’s public magnet schools operating, nor does it provide the money needed for the new magnet schools that are opening.

Malloy’s failure to properly fund the state’s magnet schools didn’t stop him from attending the recent ribbon cutting at the new Connecticut River Academy Magnet School’s $57 million school building in East Hartford where he told students, “This is our gamble, our bet, our investment in your future, that is saying that we want Connecticut to be as successful as it ever was, in fact we want it to be more successful…You have the opportunity to see the tone, to make sure that each student that follows you understands how high the bar has been set.”

But the truth is that even though the Malloy administration knew the additional funds were needed, they failed to add the $18.8 million because it would have pushed Malloy’s budget plan over the state’s spending cap.

Although Malloy failed to properly fund Connecticut’s public the magnet schools, the avid disciple of the corporate education reform industry and their Common Core, Common Core Testing and pro-charter school agenda, had no problem adding money for Connecticut’s privately run charter schools.

As Governor Malloy has increased charter school funding from $65 million last year to $75.6 million this year.  He plans to spend an incredible $92 million on charter schools in the coming year.

When the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee approved Malloy’s proposed budget on March 28,2014 they also failed to include the money needed for the magnet schools and, like Malloy, failed to put in the  money that is needed for the magnet school expansion that has already been approved.

As reported by the CT Mirror,

“By capping magnet school funding, the committee also decided not to provide the $30 million needed to increase enrollment at 10 magnet schools that have already opened and that the state spent millions to build. Typically, when a new magnet schools opens, the state phases in funding for enrollment growth by opening a new grade or two each year until the school is at capacity. The 10 magnet schools that had been set to increase enrollment before this budget were in the Bridgeport, Hartford and Windham regions. Malloy’s proposal also did not fund the magnet expenses.”

Despite failing to put in the funds needed for the magnet schools, Democrats on the Appropriations Committee left Malloy’s addition $16.4 million for charter schools untouched.

The impact of Malloy’s budget plan means that Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education can go ahead with plans to approve new charter schools this year.

The State Board of Education is expected to approve at least two new charter schools.   Among those being considered is the charter school being proposed by Steve Perry, the principal of Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School.  Readers know that Perry, who has failed to show up for his City of Hartford principal’s job more than 20 percent of the time, has created his own charter school management company and is now trying to open a charter school in Bridgeport with the help of Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Finch’s disgraced campaign treasurer and former Bridgeport Board of  Education Char Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. Perry’s proposal is to have the state’s taxpayers pay for all the costs associated with the charter school that will be run by his private company.

And what will happen to the thousands of Connecticut children who are attending magnet schools when those schools run out of money part way through the year.

Not to worry;

Sources within the Malloy administration explained that Malloy’s plan is to go back to the General Assembly after the election to get approval for spending the extra funds needed to keep the magnet schools open.

Meanwhile, Pryor and his charter school operators will get their taxpayers funds up front.

Throughout Malloy’s tenure as governor he has utilized numerous budget gimmicks to make his spending plans appear balanced.  Malloy claims that his $19 billion proposed budget for this coming year includes a $22 million surplus and is under the state’s constitutional spending cap by $8 million.

Oh and for those who were wondering, Malloy’s new budget plan simply overlooks the $1.1 billion budget deficit that is projected for the year after this November’s gubernatorial election.

  • Andrea Wilson

    Just wondering– I know this is an issue here in CT and learned it is in NY so what other states have the same practices? Anyone know?

    • Philip Stull

      Read and watch Diane Ratvich. She is the leading expert on these issues.

      • speaking up

        Yes, Andrea, Philip is absolutely right. Watch the 25 minute link in Jon’s last post (Diane Ravitch on Bill Moyers). This interview very clearly explains what’s happening with charter schools (and public schools) across the country today. You’ll hear a list of states who are struggling with the same issue(s) as Connecticut and you’ll also hear about grassroots efforts that are stopping railroad tactics and insisting that democracy prevail.

  • Linda174
  • Mary Gallucci

    Dump the charter school funding. It is grossly irresponsible to deprive of funds schools that are already open. Since there are 10 new magnet schools, and numerous already-opened ones, they should get the funds up front. There is no need for more schools, especially not for more charter schools. Pryor has a clear conflict of interest, as a man who is NOT an educator, who has never been certified, has never taught–etc. All he has ever done is open a charter school company, and all he wants to do as CT’s Commissioner of education (ha! what an offense to true educators) is open more charter schools.
    On a related corporate note, check out this “informative” infomercial for SBAC, to take place at UConn: http://events.uconn.edu/event/31233/2014-03-31
    another huge waste of money–Ed. reform–it’s not taking candy from a baby–it’s taking schools away from children and communities.

  • ReTired

    What type of idiot goes to a ribbon cutting ceremony and tells students: “This is our gamble, our bet, our investment in your future, that is saying that we want Connecticut to be as successful as it ever was, in fact we want it to be more successful…You have the opportunity to see the tone, to make sure that each student that follows you understands how high the bar has been set.” His statement verifies for me that he doesn’t know anything about kids and how they think. How do we “see” tone? Why mention that we’re “gambling” on your success? Now that’s real supportive! Doesn’t he realize that when someone gambles, there’s a 50-50 chance that you loose?!! And then the final threat-you better do well because we’ve set the bar higher-and guess what? You may fail and we’ll really be disappointed! Intimidation-pure and simple. When all else fails, threaten the poor kids that they’d better do well, or else! This statement is so condescending not only to taxpayers, but to the kids who now have to jump in and make ol’ Dannel proud! Revolting!

  • topryder1

    Your article is so full of half-truths and exaggerations, one is hard pressed use this in forming opinions. If the state has a budget cap, then what alternative does the governor have, but to balance alternatives. Everything cannot be funded.
    Recently, you were screaming about Clark in Hartford, but now that the parents voted 10-0, for Friendship to run their school, you have said not a damn thing.

    • ReTired

      His alternative is to spend more wisely. I don’t mind paying my taxes, but I sure don’t like the way politicians spend my money. Caps are imposed for a reason. Don’t you think there’s a lot of “fat” tucked into any annual budget? And how about pork-barrel legislation right here in our state?

    • Linda174

      Pryor took care of their “choice”.

  • Linda174

    @1momzer
    The bipartisan love of #CharterSchools is based on the bipartisan love of campaign cash given by the #CharterSchools lobby for “#edreform”

  • Buygoldandprosper

    Kick-the-Can Dan is pushing a lot down the road. Seems I recall he would not play that game, but he is playing it like no other before him!

    ANY sucker who votes for him will find out that once Dan has his way in the election he will really have his way with the voters like never before.

    Thank goodness the legislature is not failing to fund the Armistad to the tune of $359,776. THAT has the stink of Harpie all over it with Dan’s blessing as she can deliver a few need votes. When was the last time it made port in Connecticut? How many MILLIONS has been pissed away on it?

  • Peter Sorenson

    This magnet problem is worse than what you correctly report. There is an ugly and unethical little secret the state and the regional service centers in Hartford and New London areas (such as CREC) that manage PK level magnet programming are keeping from parents and new applicants to pre-school levels in magnet schools. As an education law attorney who follows Sheff-related matters closely on behalf of client school districts, it is hard to stay silent on this matter any more.
    A 2013 law shifts a PK magnet tuition burden from the state to families next school year. Parents have no clue this is coming and the excuse Pryor has made in testimony to the appropriations and education committees is that they hadn’t decided on a firm sliding scale for the tuition charge based on family economics, so they’d rather not say anything.

    This is a terrible disservice to magnet families, who will be on the hook for anywhere from $1000 to $2500 each year for poorer families, and $3000 to $6000 for wealthier families depending on which district operates the school and how much it gets for each student from the state’s basic magnet subsidy. No notice was given to enable families to choose non-tuitioning schools in the upcoming magnet lottery nor have existing first year PKs been notified that come August they’ll be charged this tuition in the second year of PK.
    This has been a willful collusion between CREC and the state ed dept and the Sheff plaintiffs to protect enrollment patterns to satisfy the Sheff-dictated requirements rather than having the common decency of enabling families to make informed choices. Shameful, dishonest, big brother government agencies abusing their power and forgetting who fund’s their fat paychecks – taxpaying families.

    Parents of magnet PK students at CREC schools in greater Hartford, Goodwin College’s PK magnet program in East Hartford or LEARN’s Friendship magnet school in Waterford should call and write their legislators and the Governor’s office (since all votes will likely matter this November) to protest this imminent and sizeable tuition within what is supposed to be PUBLIC schools.
    Further, since the legislature’s public hearings are over, these families should flock to the state board of education meeting this Wednesday during the public comment period to register their dissatisfaction with the agency’s secrecy, demand to know how much they’ll be charged, demand a grandfathering of existing PKs before the tuition is implemented since they will have been in their schools for a year, and/or demand a re-opening of the lottery process in the Hartford area magnet schools to be able to choose the Hartford-run magnet schools that do not charge tuition as CREC and Goodwin College do.
    Kids and parents are mere pawns in the power games played by these education agencies and these two-faced Sheff plaintiffs who claim to care about children and families.

    • speaking up

      Thank you so much for your willingness to speak up.
      Geezus… I sincerely hope that we are ready to put an end to this. It’s going to take courage – like yours – and I believe that the time has come. We CAN effect change if we all just stop thinking that “it’s no point” and “they’re just going to keep doing whatever they want.” This is still a democracy – and we are more in number.

  • speaking up

    My child is a student at a public magnet school and I am
    sickened to think of the implications of under-funding these schools while fully funding a new charter school headed by Dr. Steve Perry.

    In the Executive Summary of his application for The Capital
    Prep Harbor School (The Harbor School) in Bridgeport, it is stated that the school is designed as a replication of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School (Capital Prep) in Hartford, CT. The summary goes on to say that “Capital Prep has proven that all children when given the right conditions and environment
    not only succeed but excel in their academic as well as their social-emotional growth.”

    My child was harmed by the abusive conditions and bullying
    environment that is Capital Prep. When confronted with reports of behavior that was taking place on “his” campus, Dr. Steve Perry informed me that he did not “believe in” bullying; that most parents cannot differentiate between bullying and mean behavior. This was, I assume, the rationale used to not address the escalating situation with my child. After making various unheeded requests, reports and other attempts to reach/achieve remediation, I chose to remove my child from the school. It has been almost 3 years; my child today is beginning to meaningfully address and counteract the social-emotional and academic retardation that being a very young student at Capital Prep caused my child.

    My child is not the only student to have been subject to this
    type of harm at Capital Prep; more than one complaint alleging the same behaviors/situations has been filed, leading to the 2013 issuance of a corrective action plan for Capital Prep to comply with school climate and bullying laws.

    I have heard and read accounts of teachers who were subjected to workplace bullying at Capital Prep and, based on my experience with Dr. Steve Perry’s response to student bullying, I have no reason to doubt that the accounts are true.

    In the Harbor School application, Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. (CPS – the Charter Magnet Organization that will provide “whole school management” services for the school) proposes a commitment to serving students with a history of low academic performance, students with a history of behavioral and social difficulties, students eligible for free/reduced lunch, students in need of special education and English language learners. Making “sufficient efforts to attract, enroll and retain” these students is a requirement under Connecticut law.

    I have not seen the document, but I imagine that the school
    plan for the Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford must have required a similar commitment to serving students with special needs. Records have shown that this did not happen; special education students (including my child) at Capital Prep did not receive (and still are not receiving) the services that they need and are entitled to.

    Similarly, the percentages of ELL students and students eligible for free/reduced lunch at Capital Prep are much lower than those in
    HPS. Despite the lower percentages of these and other types of special needs students, Capital Prep’s performance scores do not reflect corresponding higher achievement; the school, in fact, has a lower performance index score than Hartford Public Schools has for precisely the population that Capital Prep claims to have achieved great success with.

    The Harbor School charter application points to the “disadvantaged and underserved” Bridgeport student population and describes Bridgeport as an educational climate that is “ripe for the introduction of the Capital Prep model.” This may be true, but it is frightening as even a cursory look at recorded data and statistics do not indicate that the Capital Prep model is prepared to serve the public school population in Bridgeport.

    In conclusion, if Dr. Steve Perry’s public attitude/demeanor/comments are to be given any credence, approving a charter school under Capital Prep School’s management will be agreeing to continue to look the other way. I take issue with a number of other statements made in the Harbor School application; the issues described above are, in my opinion, the ones that are important enough to not approve this application. I am speaking up today because I hope to prevent others from being harmed by the bullying behavior directed toward anyone who does not agree with Dr. Steve Perry, or who does not help him to further his goals. Dr. Steve Perry has been flagrant and
    unapologetic in his aggressive pursuit to acquire more schools, and to run them as he sees fit. This indicates to me that the harm that Dr. Steve Perry has caused my child and unknown other students and their families at a public school in Hartford will only be repeated in a Charter school in Bridgeport. Voting to approve this school will be voting to assume the liability risk that Dr. Steve Perry’s history indicates that he is likely to be.

    Based on my personal experience at Capital Prep, I strongly urge the Connecticut State Board of Education to not approve Dr. Steve Perry’s application for a charter school in Bridgeport.