“What in the world are they doing in Hartford?”

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Those were the simple, but rather profound, words of one Republican legislator as Connecticut’s House of Representatives and State Senate jammed through a new state budget as it careened toward its midnight deadline yesterday.

Now the General Assembly is headed for a special session to deal with some of the legislation that it failed to address.

Later this morning, Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman will hold a press conference to congratulate themselves and applaud the Democratic legislators who voted for the budget package that Malloy negotiated with the General Assembly’s Democratic Leaders this week.

Raising nearly $2 billion in tax revenue over the next two years, with the middle class taking a particularly heavy hit, the new state budget makes massive cuts to a number of vitally important health care and social service programs aimed at helping Connecticut’s poorest families and those with developmental disabilities, mental health issues or other significant life challenges. The cuts include one that will mean more than 20,000 poor parents will lose their health care coverage.  [Not to worry says the government, they can buy health insurance]

While failing to properly fund Connecticut’s public schools, leading charter school industry advocate Governor Dannel Malloy was able to “persuade” the Democratic legislators to divert scarce public funds so that his allies can open up two more privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

And as if to highlight Malloy’s dedication to screwing Connecticut’s public school students, parents and teachers, not only does the new state budget add millions of dollars more for charter schools, it actually cuts the amount of the money that towns are given to transport students.  Local school districts are required to pay for the transportation costs of charter school students and are also required to pay for any special education services that charter school students need.

The Democrat’s new budget also makes a huge cut to the Board of Regents which includes the Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges.  Even after the state universities and community colleges institute another significant tuition increase, the schools will be facing a $22 million budget deficit in the coming year, a hole that will mean reduced programs and staff at Connecticut’s largest system of public higher education.

As if to make a point, at the same time, the new budget actually reduces the amount of student financial aid available for needy Connecticut students who want to get a college education.

And in one of the more telling provisions of the state budget, money to help increase the lowest paid workers in nursing homes doesn’t go to all nursing homes but is funneled almost exclusively to homes that are represented by unions.

Meanwhile, on the tax side, long gone is Malloy’s “read my lips” promise that, if re-elected, he would not raise taxes.

The new state budget starts by dropping the property tax credit for middle income families from $300 to $200 and then the hits keep on coming for those in the shrinking middle class.

By comparison, Malloy’s pledge to coddle the rich remains pretty much intact.  The new budget increases the income tax rate for the state’s super rich from 6.7 percent to 6.9 percent, ensuring that they will be paying far less in state and local taxes than they would if they were living in New York, New Jersey or Massachusetts.

The Governor and legislative leaders are also applauding their effort to make transportation a key priority by claiming that nearly $500 million of the $2 billion in new tax revenue will go into a “lock box” for transportation.  The only thing they conveniently overlook is that this same budget withholds $371 million in general fund resources that have been going to pay for transportation projects.  The net effect is that the transportation fund far short of what it needs.

And as noted in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled “The Train Wreck of the Democrats State Budget,”one of the most obnoxious and disgusting provisions of the new state budget is that it steals, yet again, the money that has been going into the state’s School Bus Seat Belt Account – an account that was set up after a tragic fatal school bus accident on I-84 five years ago.  Twice now Governor Malloy has drained the fund in order to use the dedicated money to reduce state budget deficits.  Despite the existence of the account, and its dedicated funding stream, the School Bus Seat Belt Account has yet to pay for school bus seat belts.

Of course, none of these facts needn’t get in the way of good political rhetoric.

Speaking about the glory of the budget, the Senate President called it one of the best in his 35 years in the general assembly.

And from “no new taxes” Malloy came what may be the quote of the year;

“A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today. This agreement will help Connecticut now and in the long-run — it helps transform our transportation infrastructure as we aim for a best-in-class system. It supports our schools, supports the middle class, and supports vital programs for those who need it most. Most importantly, it helps us build a Connecticut for the long-term, making our state an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family,”

You can read more about the budget via the following links:

Budget Bill Goes Down to the Wire in State Senate (CT Newsjunkie)

Senate Dems threaten ‘nuclear option’ to pass budget, $2B tax hike (CT Mirror)

Senate, House Approve $40 Billion Budget; Gov Set To Sign It (Courant)

 

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget.

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[Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!]

After working through the night, the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut State House of Representatives and the Connecticut State Senate finally twisted enough arms to take up the state budget plan that they negotiated with Governor Dannel Malloy.

After hours of debate, the House passed the $40.3 billion, two-year budget plan by a vote of 73 to 70 with eleven Democrats voting against their party’s leadership.  Another five Republican and three Democratic state representatives simply failed to vote, some for reasons yet to be revealed.

Highlights include the fact that the infamous Steve Perry, with the convicted felon on his governing board gets the public money he wants to open his privately owned charter school, as does the Bronx charter school which is coming to save Stamford’s public education system.

Of course, the “biggest” news is on the overall tax and spending issue.

Throughout the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, candidate Dan Malloy promised, committed and swore that that we could all read his lips and count on the truth that, if elected, he would not raise taxes or cut vital services.

Now, safely tucked into his second term in office, Malloy has negotiated and will sign a budget that includes nearly two billion in new (tax) revenue and makes massive cuts to human services, education and other critically important services.

The State Senate is expected to pass the budget bill before the legislature’s midnight deadline is reached tonight.

You can read more about the new state budget via one of the following article links; House adopts controversial state budget and House Democrats Pull An All-Nighter to Push Their Budget Through and House Passes Two-Year, $40 Billion Budget.

However, for those who slow down to look at a terrible car wreck, it is worth remembering that while most legislators, reporters and onlookers focus on the big numbers listed in the budget, one can usually find far more interesting developments at the “back” of the budget.

This year’s budget includes 223 Sections.  Most contain the legislative language needed to “implement” the changes needed to raise and spend the money contained in the budget but some…

Alas most legislators never take the time to read through all the words, numbers and verbiage.

For that matter, neither do most reporters.

Initial “tidbits” of note in the document that is presently being rushed through the legislature include changes that allow liquor stores to be open until 10pm and a change in the law that limits the number of liquor stores an individual may own.  (It was three but someone must have wanted more because the new number is five.)

Better still is Sec. 173 of House Bill 7061 (The Budget Bill)

The section reads, “Not later than June 30, 2016, the Comptroller may designate up to $25,000,000 of the resources of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, to be accounted for as revenue of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.

In English this seems to say that some point in the next fiscal real (FY16), Connecticut’s State Comptroller will take out a magic wand and pronounce that 25 million dollars in state revenue that has come in during Fiscal Year 2016 is really, truly, actually revenue that will come in during Fiscal Year 2017.

Why would Governor Malloy and the Democratic legislators require that revenue that came in one year be declared revenue in a different year?

The simplified answer is that it is way to balance the budget in FY17 without having to deal with some of the uncomfortable limitations of the state’s screwed up spending cap.  Rather than simply deal with the spending cap issues, one way to sneak past the problem is to say revenue from one year is actually revenue in another.

But if that one doesn’t leave you shaking your head…

Try this one…

Section 55(d) of the budget requires that,

“On or before June 30, 2015, the sum of $ 3,000,000 shall be transferred from the school bus seat belt account, established in section 14-50b of the general statutes, and credited to the resources of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

Wait, What?

These people would actually steal the money that is dedicated install seat belts into school buses and dump it into this year’s General Fund to make the state deficit look smaller?

Who on earth would do such a terrible thing?

On wait, I remember?

And so will long time Wait, What? readers.

If you don’t remember the “school seat belt issue” just read the following Wait, What? posts.

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority? (Wait, What? 12/20/12) and School Bus Seat Belt Fund: A prime example of Connecticut’s budget gimmickry  (Wait,What? 1/22/14)

Here is the text from the 2012 post

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority?   Aka:  No that was then, this is now…

Following the tragic school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford in January 2010 that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools, the legislature kicked into action.

On May 1 of that year the General Assembly passed what was to become Public Act 10-83.

The law created the Connecticut School Bus Seat Belt account, “a separate non-lapsing account in the General Fund” and required the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to administer a program to use the funds in the account to help school districts pay for the cost of equipping school buses with lap/shoulder (3-point) seat belts.

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $ 175.  The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the higher fee would raise about $2.1 million a year.

Fast forward two and a half years…and the fund now has $4.7 million.

Yesterday, the Legislature’s deficit mitigation bill including language overriding the previous law and transferring the $4,700,000 from the School Bus Seat Belt account into the General Fund to help eliminate this year’s $415 million deficit.

Gone is the money for school seat belts.

That tragedy was yesterday’s news.

And besides, who would remember that the account in question grew out of the concern elected officials had for the safety of our children.

A Convicted Felon on Steve Perry’s Charter School Governing Council – There should be a law!

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On December 5, 2000, Carl McCluster was sentenced to five years’ probation for embezzling $114,000 from a program meant to help homeless veterans in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

According to the court order, the defendant was placed on home confinement for the first six months. (The Judge order that, “The defendant shall pay none of the costs associated with monitoring.”) The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution to the Veteran’s Affairs, Homeless Providers Grant Per Diem Program.

McCluster was back in federal court five years later to deal with the payment issues and a related garnishment of his wages from his employer, Shiloh Baptist Church.

The issue of convicted felons being associated with Charter Schools is unfortunately not new to Connecticut.

Just last year Connecticut witnessed the collapse of the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school chain as a result of revelations that the company’s CEO “Dr.” Michael Sharpe didn’t actually have the academic credentials he claimed and, to boot, had been convicted of embezzling public funds when he was working in California.

The State Department of Education claimed they had no knowledge that the CEO of Fuse/Jumoke Charter School company wasn’t exactly who he claimed to be.

So action was needed and with the Jumoke debacle fresh in their minds, the leadership of Connecticut’s Education Committee introduced Senate Bill 1096 – AN ACT CONCERNING CHARTER SCHOOLS.

The legislation has passed the Connecticut State Senate and it presently sits on the House calendar waiting for its potential passage prior to legislature’s midnight deadline tomorrow, Wednesday, June 2, 2015.

The bill requires greater transparency for Connecticut’s charter schools, something that Dacia Toll, the CEO of Achievement First, Inc., a large charter school chain with schools in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island opposed, having told the Education Committee that it would be a “burden” for charter schools to have to be more transparent.  Achievement First Inc. is the charter school chain co-founded by Malloy’s first term commissioner of education, Stefan Pryor.

While much of the charter school accountability bill is waiting for action by the House deals with fiscal transparency, there is also a critically important section on criminal background checks.

As the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research explains in the bill summary,

“Beginning July 1, 2015, the bill requires various individuals who manage and work in charter schools to submit to several types of background checks. Specifically, SBE must require governing council and CMO members to submit to Department of Children and Families child abuse and neglect registry checks and state and national criminal history records checks (1) prior to SBE granting an initial certificate to the charter school or (2) before the governing council or CMO may hire new members.”

Wait? What?

Submit background checks before a charter school can be granted approval to open?

But what about schools that already have the approval of the Connecticut State Department of Education to open, but haven’t actually received the funding they would need to start operating?

The bill’s language is clear – Beginning July 1, 2015 – Charter school applicants must do complete background checks and provide that information to the State Board of Education in their application material.

The two charter schools that Governor Dannel Malloy is demanding funding for were already approved in 2014, they have an approved application in place….just not funding (yet.)

So if you were listening closely, that sound you just heard was probably the wannabee charter school chain operator Steve Perry dancing a jig based on the fact that he won’t have to go through the trouble and burden of providing the state with information about the criminal backgrounds of members of his charter school’s governing council.

Because if he did, that would be a problem!

A big problem…

The charter school application submitted by Steve Perry and approved by Governor Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education included the names of the members of the Governing Council of Steve Perry’s new charter school…

And leading the list of governing board members is Carl McCluster, who also happens to be one of Perry’s biggest cheerleaders in Bridgeport.

Having testified for Steve Perry’s charter school and spoken at rally’s in support of Perry’s plan,  Carl McCluster and Steve Perry certainly don’t want to face what would be an awkward situation if Perry was required to reveal whether any of his governing board members are convicted felons.

The charter school industry is certainly hoping, and undoubtedly working, to make sure that Senate Bill 1096 is not taken up in the House of Representatives today or tomorrow.  Failure to pass the bill in the next 30 hours will kill the legislation.

However, even if the bill passes and is signed into by Governor Malloy, McCluster and Perry can rest easy because as it is presently written the law only applies to charter school applications that are submitted on or after July 1, 2015.

Phew, that is good to know

What do you know…Democrats balance terrible budget on backs of middle class

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More taxpayer money for Malloy’s two new pet charter schools while Connecticut’s public schools face record cuts is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the budget the Democrats are scheduled to pass later today.

Candidate Den Malloy said that, if elected, he wouldn’t raise taxes but the budget Malloy and the Democratic leaders are pushing includes at least $500 million in new tax revenue with a vast share of those funds coming from Connecticut’s middle class.

And all this while Malloy, with the help of Democrats in the legislature, continue to allow Connecticut’s wealthy to go without paying their fair share!

But not letting the truth get in the way of some good political rhetoric, Connecticut’s Democratic Governor and Democratic legislative leaders released a joint statement yesterday (Sunday) declaring victory and patting their own backs.

The statement began,

Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Senate President Martin Looney, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff announced that they have reached an agreement on a biennium budget. The package takes Connecticut into the future by funding transportation, providing important property tax relief, and funding vital programs.

From Malloy,

“A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today. This agreement will help Connecticut now and in the long-run — it helps transform our transportation infrastructure as we aim for a best-in-class system. It supports our schools, supports the middle class, and supports vital programs for those who need it most. Most importantly, it helps us build a Connecticut for the long-term, making our state an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family.”

From Senate President Martin Looney,

“This budget meets the State’s obligations and provides historic property tax relief for the people of Connecticut,” said Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “After years of acknowledging the need to change our Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, this year, we delivered revolutionary changes by taking into account the relative need for assistance based on the percentage of tax exempt property in each municipality. We also begin to provide substantial relief for car owners and high mill rate municipalities on their car tax.”

From Speaker of the House Brendon Sharkey,

“This budget protects hard-working, middle-class families by providing property tax relief through additional aid to our communities, and funds vital services people rely on every day by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay a little bit more. The legislature worked closely with the governor to finalize a budget that represents the wide ranging priorities of our diverse state, and sets us on a path that encourages continued economic growth. Concerns over some provisions in earlier versions of the budget were heard and reflected in the final deliberations,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden). 

Impressive words to be sure… they just happen not to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…

But now, thanks to the CT Mirror, we learn the real truth;

The CT Mirror’s new article is entitled, New budget includes $200 million income tax hit on middle class and reads,

A last-minute component of the new two-year state budget deal includes a $100 million-per-year income tax hike on Connecticut’s middle class, sources confirmed early Monday.

That hike would not come in the form of increased paycheck withholding, but rather by reducing the credit households can claim to offset their local property tax payments from $300 to $200. It also would change eligibility rules that further reduce the relief some households would receive.

[…]

A state tax incidence report released in December confirmed what state officials have long asserted, that the property tax is the most regressive levy in the state. That report found households earning less than $48,000 per year effectively pay nearly one-quarter of their annual income to cover state and local taxes. That also includes families and individuals that rent their housing, and whose rental charges reflect the property taxes their landlord must pay.

But the middle- and lower-income families also are sacrificing on the tax side of the new budget — and more than originally anticipated.

The planned restoration of a sales tax break on clothing costing less than $50, which is worth $280 million to consumers over the next two years, is dropped …

[…]

Add in the $200 million extra in income taxes that the middle class will pay, and this amounts of more than $500 million in extra revenue coming to the state from middle- and lower-income households.

You’ll want to wait until your lunch has settled, but for the details about the Democrat’s budget debacle read the full Mirror story which can be found at:  http://ctmirror.org/2015/06/01/new-budget-includes-200-million-income-tax-hit-on-middle-class/

 

Malloy – Wyman Team Earn an “F” on Education

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Led by Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly have proven, yet again, that they are unwilling to protect and support Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and public schools.

Today the Connecticut General Assembly will rush through a vote on a massive $40 billion spending and tax bill that not only makes record cuts to vital human services and education funding, but provides the “blood money” needed to open two new charter schools in Connecticut…despite the fact that the boards of education in both “host” communities VOTED AGAINST the allowing the proposed charter schools to open.

As Malloy/Wyman demanded, the infamous anti-union charter school advocate, Steve Perry, will get money, diverted from Connecticut’s public schools, to open a charter school in Bridgeport.

Perry’s most noteworthy accomplishment in Connecticut is his use of the “Table of Shame” at Capital Prep Magnet School to humiliate students who failed to follow his rules.  On the national level, Perry, who calls himself American’s most trusted educator, is fond of calling teachers’ unions’ cockroaches.

Malloy/Wyman are forcing the second charter school upon Stamford.  Again, even though the local board of education voted against the proposal and testified against the project before the State Board of Education and the Connecticut General Assembly, less Connecticut taxpayer funds will be going to public schools and instead, a Bronx charter school company will be getting millions so that it can open a charter school in the Governor’s hometown.

As if giving more money to the discriminatory charter schools, while cutting funding for public schools wasn’t enough to earn the Malloy-Wyman Team an F on Education, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly will end the session by;

  • Failing to decouple the unfair Common Core SBAC test results from the state’s teacher evaluation system.
  • Failing to pass legislation supporting a parents fundamental right to opt their child or children out of the discriminatory and inappropriate Common Core SBAC test.
  • Failing to ensure appropriate protections are put in place to protect the privacy rights of student and parents due to the massive data collection scam that is part of the Common Core SBAC testing scheme.
  • And even failing to make any meaningful changes in the amount of standardized testing that is undermining the ability of Connecticut’s teachers to provide children with the instructional time the need.

From the first day of this year’s legislative session to the last, the Malloy-Wyman Team maintained their never-ending quest to receive a Grade of F on education.  Instead of doing anything to support public education and teachers, Malloy and Wyman maintained their commitment to the following;

  • More money for the charter school industry
  • More support for the corporate education reform agenda
  • Less money for Connecticut’s public schools, meaning higher property taxes
  • An ongoing attempt to denigrate teachers and the teaching profession
  • An unwillingness to treat parents with dignity and respect
  • And a complete failure to support the value of local control.

Every parent, teacher and taxpayer take heed;

Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and the Democrats have proven, beyond any doubt, that they are unwilling to do what is right for Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and schools.

When teachers lose their jobs

When school programs are cut

When local property taxes go up

When students and parents are harassed and abused about the Common Core SBAC testing

When private data on students and parents is shared with private companies

When teachers are unfairly punished by the teacher evaluation debacle

We will know and remember who turned their back when we needed them most

You can read more about the latest education disaster via the following links:

Malloy Flexes Muscle For Charter Schools (CT Newsjunkie)

And from Wait, What?

Hartford Courant reports Malloy got his way with demand for public money for new charter schools

What is the story about Governor Dannel Malloy’s little Bronx Charter School for Excellence

Charter School Mogul Steve Perry owns it all – even without legislative approval

CT Dem Governor Malloy says no state budget without new charter schools

Hartford Courant reports Malloy got his way with demand for public money for new charter schools

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While making record cuts to public schools and human services the Hartford Courant is reporting that Connecticut’s Democratic legislative leaders have caved in to Governor Malloy and agreed to force their follow Democrats in the legislature to vote in favor of giving two more charter school companies the money they want to open schools in Bridgeport and Stamford.

In a news the Hartford Courant reports Negotiators Reach Tentative State Budget Deal Sunday Morning.

The Courant explains;

“After all-day talks at the state Capitol, legislators reached a tentative deal with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on a two-year, $40 billion budget early Sunday morning that hikes corporate taxes, raises the personal income tax on the wealthy and legalizes keno gambling.

[…]

House Democrats briefly discussed the details on Sunday after adjourning their session. A vote on the fiscal package by the House and Senate is expected Monday after the tax-writing finance committee meets to adopt the revenue estimates from multiple tax increases.

[…]

While the negotiators crafted the package behind closed doors, increased funding for charter schools emerged Saturday as one of the sticking points. House Democrats discussed the issue in a closed-door caucus with opponents saying the state needs to spend more money on traditional public schools and not $21.6 million for charter school expansion, including new schools in Bridgeport and Stamford that Malloy wants.

While some Democrats are pushing for the additional charter school money to be reduced or eliminated, some said the issue alone would not cause them to vote against the entire budget that funds scores of agencies, nonprofit organizations, and departments that operate everything from state prisons to the attorney general’s office. Yet others said the charter school funding was among the multiple issues that would make them consider opposing the two-year budget in a vote on Monday.”

You can read the full story at: http://www.courant.com/politics/capitol-watch/hc-state-budget-charter-schools-0531-20150530-story.html#page=1

For additional background on Malloy’s demand that the new charter schools be funded or else… See the following Wait, What? posts.

What is the story about Governor Dannel Malloy’s little Bronx Charter School for Excellence

Charter School Mogul Steve Perry owns it all – even without legislative approval

CT Dem Governor Malloy says no state budget without new charter schools

 

What is the story about Governor Dannel Malloy’s little Bronx Charter School for Excellence

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Faced with a mountain a state debt, insufficient revenues to maintain vital services and his unwillingness to require the rich to pay their fair share in taxes, why would Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy be saying that he will not sign any new state budget that doesn’t include the taxpayer funds that Steve Perry wants in order to open his privately owned, but publicly funded charter school in Bridgeport and the money a small charter school in the Bronx is demanding so that they can save Stamford, Connecticut by opening up a charter school in his home city.

Perhaps even more incredibly, Malloy is demanding that the Democrats in the Connecticut Legislature put the extra charter school money into the budget at the same time that he wants them to adopt a budget that makes record cuts to Connecticut’s public schools, including schools in the legislators’ own districts.

It is a question that every public schools student, parent, teacher and taxpayer should be asking.

To some degree the answer appears to be that given the choice, Malloy will always go for the campaign donations rather than the needs of Connecticut’s public schools, teachers and students.

In an amazing piece of investigative journalism, the Hartford Courant’s Jenny Wilson lays bare Malloy’s relationship with some of his campaign donors who are part of the charter school elite.  See Hedge Fund Managers Back Charter Schools, Democrats’ Campaigns

While Malloy’s true motivations behind holding up a $40 billion, two-year state budget, in order to funnel about $15 million a year to two new charter schools remains a mystery, the connection between the charter school industry and politicians is not.

From sea to shining sea, the corporate executives who support charter schools are pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaign and with Malloy becoming chair of the Democratic Governors Association next year, those potential donors become extremely valuable.

But is funneling money to the people who run the small Bronx Charter School of Excellence worth the effort?

After all, the Bronx Charter School for Excellence appears to be a two-bit player in the charter school industry agenda.

The Bronx charter school’s Head of School, Charlene Reid, who has been urging Connecticut’s government officials to hand over the money so that she can open a charter school in the Stamford, has been being pulling down in excess of $200,000 a year since 2010.

Over the same period, although the school has had only about 300 students, until a recent expansion, the Bronx Charter School for Excellence has collected approximately $50 million in public funds.

In addition, the school has a related “non-profit” which goes by the name of “Friends of the Bronx Charter School for Excellence.”  The companion company has collected another million or so in order to augment the schools budget over the past few years.

Head of Schools Charlene Reid is one of two school administrator that collects a salary from both the Bronx Charter School for Excellence and the Friends of the Bronx Charter School for Excellence.

For the most recent year in which records have been submitted, calendar year 2012, Reid received over $200,000 from the Bronx Charter School of Excellence, $20,000 from the Friends of the Bronx School of Excellence and was handed another $60,000 in a bonus from the school’s Board of Directors.  The Board had previously given Reid and annual bonus of $25,000 in 2011 and $20,000 in 2010.

The “non-profit” has yet to provide its IRS form 990 for the calendar years 2013 or 2014, so the school’s present financial picture is not particularly clear.

But there is certainly something more going on than meets the eye.

To begin to see the situation more clearly, one need only read a 2013 report on charter school financing in New York.

Recall that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not only among the richest Americans but he is also one of the major players funding the charter school industry and the entire corporate education reform movement.

Bloomberg’s long-time chief adviser is now in charge of political strategy for the charter advocacy group called Families for Excellent Schools, the entity that is paying for the pro-charter school television ads that have been running in Connecticut and the group that organized the recent pro-charter school rally at the State Capital in Hartford…the one in which charter schools students and parents were bused in from as far away as New York and Boston.

As an aside, when Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch was engaged in his failed attempt to do away with a democratically elected board of education in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by him, one of the out-of-state contributions to what became the most expensive charter revision campaign in history was Bloomberg.  (The largest individual contribution to Finch’s effort came from Jonathan Sackler who the Hartford Courant article noted today is also Governor Malloy’s largest campaign contributor.)

But back in 2013, when Bloomberg was still Mayor of New York City, the New York City Economic Development Corporation financed $23.3 million in tax exempt bonds for the Bronx Charter School for Excellence.

But how did the tiny 300 student Bronx Charter School for Excellence claim that they had the ability to pay off the bonds?

Well, it turns out that the school was only one of the signers to the bond agreement.

The two other players in the bond deal were the Education Reform giant – The Walton Foundation (Which belongs to the family that owns Wal-Mart) and a relatively new entity called the Charter School Financing Partnership.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation had never been in the business of issuing tax exempt bonds for charter schools, but starting with the Bronx Charter School for Excellence and another school that was seeking funding at the same time, the public economic development entity became a major charter school funder in New York.

According to a report at the time,

“The Charter School Financing Partnership is a key player for using small amounts of private money (i.e. The Walton money) to get leveraged funds (i.e. debt through tax exempt bonds…)”

[…]

Five community capital organizations have formed the Charter School Financing Partnership to increase capital access for high-performing, emerging charter schools. With credit enhancement from the US Department of Education and the Walton Family Foundation, CSFP offers innovative, flexible-financing solutions for schools. Through CSFP, schools can buy down the effective rate on tax-exempt bond executions and enhance New Market Tax Credit transactions as well as other conventional financing products.”

And why would the Bronx Charter School for Excellence need such “enhancements.”

“Because even the New York Charter School Institute recent financial evaluations “dash board” release on April 30 put forward a less-than-secure assessment for Bronx Charter School for Excellence for the 2011-12 year.  The key metrics from the NYCSI were: “fiscally needs monitoring”, “working capital risk: high”, “acid test ratio: high”, “debt to asset ratio risk: medium”, “months of cash risk: high.”

And as the report goes on to explain

“The school is purchasing its present facility for $7.455 million and acquiring/constructing a building attached to it for $16.773 million.  In comparison the school paid $1.05 mm in “land/rent/lease” payments in 2011-12 according to CSI financial dash board, the school will pay $1.151 mm in debt payments in 2014 and $1.67 mm in 2018 to pay bondholders.  In essence that is $500,000 more per year (until 2043) at a school already recognized as needing monitoring by its authorizer SUNY CSI.”

The only catch is that the Bronx Charter School for Excellence now needs to come up with at least $500,000 in revenue every year starting in 2018.

Connecticut citizens may debate why Governor Malloy is demanding that Connecticut taxpayers start handing over millions of dollars a year to a charter school company from the Bronx, but one thing is certain…

The Bronx Charter School for Excellence needs to come up with an extra $500,000 a year to pay off its bond holders in New York and since charter school management companies can skim off 10% of a Connecticut charter school’s revenue by way of a “management fee,” the Connecticut taxpayer money Malloy wants to hand over will certainly come in handy.

CT Dem Governor Malloy says no state budget without new charter schools

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With the Connecticut General Assembly’s 2015 Legislative Session coming to an end, it was only a matter of time before Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy was forced to show his hand in the debate about the next state budget.

The candidate who falsely claimed that the state budget was balanced and that, if re-elected, he wouldn’t make cuts to social services or raise taxes is now instructing his Democratic colleagues in the State Senate and State House of Representatives that not only must they make historic cuts to vital health and human services, while raising tax on the middle class, but that he will only accept a budget that includes funding for two new charter schools while the new budget cuts funding for the state’s public schools.

In a blockbuster breaking news story written by the CTMirror’s Jacqueline Rabe and Keith Phaneuf, the reporters reveal what has really been going on behind closed doors in the all-night budget negotiations that have been taking place between Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders.

In a news article entitled, Could Malloy’s push to fund charter schools jeopardize budget approval?, the CT Mirror reports,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s insistence on increasing funding for charter schools has more than a dozen Democratic legislators questioning whether they can support the next state budget if it means their neighborhood public schools are flat-funded or cut.

[…]

On Wednesday, a dozen House Democrats met with Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, to share their concerns with the Democratic governor’s determination to spend $4.6 million in the upcoming fiscal year to open a new charter school in Bridgeport and another in Stamford

A group of Democratic senators also met with their leadership this week to share similar concerns.

The CT Mirror goes on to explain,

Malloy met twice with Democratic legislative leaders overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, and sources said the governor indicated he would not accept anything less than the funding level he proposed for charter schools.

The governor has been a major proponent of expanding charter school enrollment. His budget proposes expanding enrollment in existing and new charter schools by 1,446 students next school year, a move that would cost the state $15.9 million. His budget cuts millions in funding the state currently provides the state’s lowest-performing neighborhood schools.

Earlier this month, he rallied with charter school advocates at the Capitol.

“Let me be very clear, we also have to understand that we are going to have charter schools in Connecticut,” Malloy said during the rally.

Democrat Malloy, along with Democrats New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have become the poster boys for the anti-union, anti-teacher, anti-public school corporate education reform industry and their unprecedented effort to privatize public education in the United States.

In 2012 Malloy rolled out his “education reform” initiative becoming the first Democratic governor in history to call for eliminating teacher tenure for all public school teachers and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for teachers in the state’s poorest schools.

Corporate Education Reform Industry advocacy groups have since pumped more than $7.5 million into their record breaking lobbying campaign in support of Malloy’s efforts to denigrate teachers, radically reduce local control of education and turn the state’s public schools into little more than Common Core testing factories.

When presenting his proposed state budget earlier this year, Malloy called for record cuts to Connecticut’s public schools while demanding that Connecticut’s legislators divert scarce public funds so that Malloy’s charter school allies could open two more charter schools in the state.

Under Malloy’s plan, Steve Perry, the infamous opponent of teacher unions, is slated to get funding for his privately owned but publicly funded charter school in Bridgeport.

The Governor’s plan also calls for funding a charter school company from the Bronx that says it will save Stamford, Connecticut by opening a sister school there.

In both cases, the local Boards of Education voted against the charter school proposals and testified in opposition to the charter schools before the State Board of Education and the General Assembly’s Education Committee.

The governor and his administration have refused to take the local opposition into consideration.

But in a humorous end note, the CT Mirror story quotes an executive from one of the corporate funded charter advocacy groups who says,

Charter advocates are glad the governor is being so persistent.

“We’re grateful that the majority of legislators are bucking the special interests and listening to the pleas of parents who want a great school for their children,” said Kara Neidhardt, a spokesperson for Families for Excellent Schools, a charter advocacy group.

Families for Excellent Schools not only bused in parents from New York and Boston for the Hartford pro-charter school rally at which Malloy spoke a few weeks ago but the group is running millions of dollars in television ads in New York in support of NY Governor Cuomo’s plan to use more than $150 million in tax credits to subsidize students attending religious schools in New York.

The MUST READ CT Mirror story can be found here:  http://ctmirror.org/2015/05/29/could-malloys-push-to-fund-charter-schools-jeopardize-budget-approval/

You can read a recent Wait, What? blog about Steve Perry’s charter school plans here: Charter School Mogul Steve Perry owns it all – even without legislative approval

And be sure to check back as this breaking story develops.

Charter School Mogul Steve Perry owns it all – even without legislative approval

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True, Connecticut’s Steve Perry has been serving as the principal of Hartford Connecticut’s public charter school named Capital Prep Magnet School but that hasn’t stopped him from opening up a charter school management company using the name of his public school.

For a long period of time, his private company even listed Hartford’s public school address as his private company’s corporate location for its IRS filings.

Now, with only days left to the 2015 Connecticut Legislative Session Perry is counting on Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy to force the Connecticut General Assembly to provide the public funds Perry needs to open his privately owned charter school in Bridgeport Connecticut.

Not one to stand on ceremony, or even legality, Perry’s company website is called “We Are Capital Prep.”

And as a visit there reveals, Perry’s self-described “boutique” charter school chain not only includes the unfunded and unopened Capital Preparatory Harbor [Charter] School in Bridgeport but it also includes the equally non-existent Capital Preparatory Harlem [Charter] School in New York City.

But the piece de résistance is that the man who calls himself the “most trusted educator in America” continues to tell the public that his “Family of Schools” includes Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School… which remains, at least for now, under the care, control and ownership of the Hartford Board of Education and the people of Hartford.

Just check out the site: 

CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS

The Capital Preparatory family of Schools includes the Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut; Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Capital Preparatory Harlem School in New York City.

A click of the mouse will even take you to the taxpayer owned website of the taxpayer owned school called Capital Prep Magnet.

But clearly Perry belief is that the motto in today’s corporate education reform industry world is that something as simple as the basic truth shouldn’t stand in the way of good corporate marketing campaign.

Oh and special word to Connecticut’s state legislators;

Remember, if you use Connecticut’s scarce public funds to preserve vital health and human services rather than fund Perry’s private charter school venture…. Well, you are hereby warned;

The last time he didn’t get his way, Perry took to his Twitter account to threaten;

 Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry

“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”

Opt-Out movement rolls across CT – with opt out rates in excess of 50% in a number of high schools

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Although most parents of public school students won’t appreciate the disastrous impact of the unfair and discriminatory Common Core SBAC test until the test results arrive at homes this summer, record numbers of parents have stepped up to opt their children out of the inappropriate SBAC testing scheme.

Firm opt out numbers are trickling in from around the state and the number of parents who have refused to have their children abused by the testing process is significant, especially among high school juniors who are particularly at risk of being negatively impacted by the test that is intentionally designed to fail the vast majority of Connecticut students.

Despite a concerted, unethical and immoral effort by Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration and some local school superintendents to mislead, harass and punish students in an effort to convince parents not to opt the child or children out of the Common Core SBAC test, thousands of parents and students have refused to be bullied and refused to take the disastrous test.

In towns where school superintendents handled their duties in a professional and appropriate fashion, the number of students opting out has reached massive proportions with some high schools reporting more than 80 percent of their high school juniors did not take the test.  A  number of high schools have seen opt out rates in excess of 50 percent.

Not surprisingly, where superintendents and school principals failed to fulfill their ethical responsibilities, choosing instead to bully and harass students by claiming that they could not graduate if they failed to take the Common Core SBAC test or telling parents that it was illegal to opt out of the SBAC test, the number of students refusing the test was significantly lower.

However, those schools administrators will discover that misleading and even lying to their schools’ parents will lead to major repercussions.

Check back here at Wait, What? and watch for media reports about the actual opt out numbers as school districts finalize and report on their Common Core testing activities

Also feel free to report any information you’ve heard in the comment section or send that information to [email protected]

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