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School Leaders Convene to Fix Education Funding
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Local school leaders were relieved on Wednesday to hear that Governor Rell won't cut state funding to cities and towns. The biggest portion of state aid to municipalities goes to public education. But school leaders everywhere say Connecticut's education funding system is broken. Now, the State Board of Ed plans to convene a committee to try and figure out how to fix it. WNPR's Diane Orson reports.

As the Governor's Budget Chief was laying out the state's tax and spending plans on Wednesday, across the street from the Capital, State Board of Education officials were coming up with their own plans to fix Connecticut's school funding model. They proposed a new committee to look at all the different funding streams for traditional public schools, for magnets, for charters, for technical schools, and try and come up with a basic funding policy that works. Dept. of Education Spokesman Tom Murphy:

"We support our charter schools with a state grant. We have four different types of subsidies for magnet schools. We really need to take a step back and come up with a set of recommendations that provide uniformity and sustainability."

State officials also want come up with way to ease the growing burden on local property taxes to share the cost of public school expenditures. Danielle K. Smith is state director for the CT Black Alliance for Educational Options. She applauds the idea of a new committee, but says the need is urgent:

"It's admirable to see leadership being taken at this level. However we also need to keep in mind that we need to do whatever is necessary right now. There are children and families that absolutely cannot wait."

Alex Johnston is CEO of ConnCANN, an education reform advocacy organization.

"There's a widespread recognition that public school funding in CT is not working well. It's not serving many students in many different kinds of schools and the state board has a unique vantage point from which to convene key stakeholders."

The goal will be to have recommendations ready in time for the 2011 budget session.

For WNPR, I'm Diane Orson.