State lawmakers to city: Chip in more toward schools

April 16, 2018 GMT

BRIDGEPORT — The city’s eight member legislative delegation has sent a letter to the mayor and city council asking for it to stop shortchanging its school system.

“It is incumbent upon the city administration and council to show their commitment to Bridgeport children by prioritizing additional funding for the public school system.” says the letter which was signed by both state senators and all six legislators.

The city’s school budget has essentially been flat funded for four years as costs continue to increase. As a result, 198 staffing positions have been cut and many more are anticipated again in the 2018-19 school year.


In 2018, the city’s Board of Education budget is $245.7 million. For fiscal year 2019, the board requested a $261.57 million spending package. The mayor, however, includes just the $1.15 million Education Cost Sharing increase approved with the state’s biennium budget.

“For our children to succeed, the city administration and the Bridgeport City Council must work together with us to allocate the funding needed to further invest in the educational successes of our children,” states the letter. “The city cannot continue to ask the Bridgeport legislative delegation to fight for additional state education aid when the administration continues to shortchange the city’s Board of Education. The state and the city need to share the financial weight.”

The letter doesn’t say by how much the city’s share should increase. The city currently contributes $63 million or about one quarter of the school budget.

It also doesn’t say where the money should come from. As it is, the budget Mayor Joseph Ganim proposed to city council fails to factor a $1.7 million increase required in library spending without making more cuts or raising taxes.

The city has long maintained it doesn’t have the property tax-generating ability to properly fund its school system.

State Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, said he realizes its a tough budget environment but hopes the city administration and the city council will prioritize investments in schooling.

“As our educators are asked to do more with less, it’s crucial that our schools receive the level of funding needed to support our students’ needs,” Stafstrom said.

Schools Superintendent Aresta Johnson is expected to bring up the letter when she meets on Wednesday with the council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee.

lclambeck@ctpost.com; twitter/lclambeck