Urban mayors met in Hartford to ask legislators to restore funds for the Early Reading Success Program.Â Meanwhile, state Republicans say their alternative budget proposal would protect the early reading grants.
Early Reading Success grants target Connecticutâ€™s most disadvantaged students. Funds for the program were zeroed out by lawmakers this legislative session.
At a news conference in Hartford, educators, and local leaders talked about the impact of Early Reading Success on their districts.Â New Haven School Superintendent Reginald Mayo said if Connecticut is going to demand more accountability from urban schools, the state should not strip cities of funds that provide the tools for students to learn to read.
"Those young people who need dollars the most,Â in the most critical area that we have, the foundation of all education, reading..needs these dollars in order for us to continue to improve."
New Haven stands to lose $2.3 million in the next school year.Â House Republican Leader Larry Cafero says if Connecticut were to adopt the GOPâ€™s alternative budget in the upcoming special session, the program could be saved.Â The Republican proposal is based on early retirement incentives for state employees. The plan projects a reduction of the workforce by 1200 state employees and Cafero estimates savings of more than $160 million in the first year.
"And its with that savings that weâ€™ve been allowed to provide tax breaks, to fund the Early Reading Success program and we do it in a balanced, responsible way."
The $19.7 million program began about a decade ago to support better teaching of reading to small children. 15 Connecticut school districts receive the funds.