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Dept. of Education Suspends Grants to Schools
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As Connecticut grapples with a $400 million budget deficit, the State Department of Education has suspended key payments to school districts. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports.

Urban school superintendents recently began noticing that important grants were not arriving from the state. These funds support priority school district programs, pay for transportation, and Head Start. The superintendents asked why.  In a response on Friday from State Department of Education fiscal officer Brian Mahoney, that superintendents learned that Connecticut won’t  pay the education grants until the Governor and legislature agree on a fiscal mitigation plan.  Phil Streifer is Superintendent of Schools in Bristol.

"We have programs operating.  We have faculty and staff that we’ve committed to, and we don’t have the money locally to pay for it. So we’re going to have to discuss very soon, do we eliminate all these programs? Do we lay these people off? Those are the decisions we’re facing."

And Streifer says there’s been no assurance from the state that when a mitigation plan is in place, that the grants will be restored.

"Look, we know the state is short of money, but someone needs to make a decision about how programs are going to be funded. How education is going to be funded. Fundamentally, that’s the issue here."

Streifer says urban school districts will be disproportionately affected by the a lack of state funds.  He’s calling on the legislature and the governor to act swiftly. 

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.