Funding for a school reading program that targets the stateâ€™s most disadvantaged students was zeroed out by lawmakers this legislative session. Advocates say theyâ€™ll continue to try and restore the funds.
The Early Reading Success grants began about a decade ago to support better teaching of reading to small children. 15 Connecticut school districts receive the funds. Last year during the budget process some members of the General Assembly raised concerns about the programâ€™s effectiveness. Last minute cuts were made and the program was funded through the end of this school year, but zeroed out for the 2nd year of the biennial budget.
State Representative Andrew Fleischmann, co-chair of the Education Committee says most legislators assumed that adjustments would be made and funding restored. But Fleishmnn says, no one anticipated that Governor Rell would insist on a â€œdo nothing budgetâ€.
"This is the first year ever where there were no adjustments due to the governorâ€™s stance and Iâ€™m sure that those who at the last minute had removed these grant funds never expected that the program would in fact be zeroed out."
New Haven will lose $2.3 million in the next school year. Money that funds paraprofessionals and literacy coaches throughout the city. Christina Sagnella is a literacy coach at King/Robinson Interdistrict Magnet School.
"I work directly with my teachers, I co-teach lessons with them. I bring them the latest research thatâ€™s out there, look at student work and help them to really zero in on what their studentsâ€™ needs are.
"Who are we? We are the children of the present and the future. We are the cornerstone of society."
At a special assembly at King/Robinson, students recite the school pledge
"This is a school where you can feel the impact."
Imma Canelli is Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for New Havenâ€™s public schools.
"We feel like in New Haven we finally started to see the fruits of our labor. And so now weâ€™re just devastated because I canâ€™t even imagine how weâ€™re going to survive without literacy coaches in the schools. Theyâ€™re crucial."
New Havenâ€™s third grade CMT literacy scores have made double digit gains in the past two years. Other cities have not fared as well as New Haven. Lawmakers say thereâ€™s a slim chance that funding could be restored, if savings are found elsewhere.