Funding for a school reading program targeting Connecticut's most disadvantaged students was zeroed out during the legislative session. Now school districts around the state are figuring out how they'll proceed without the funds.
Connecticutâ€™s Early Reading Success Grants began about a decade ago to support better teaching of reading. New Haven will lose $2.3 million, some of which paid for school-based literacy coaches. New Haven Assistant School Superintendent Imma Canelli.
"We have to make cuts. Obviously, thereâ€™s 19 positions there that weâ€™re going to have to eliminate, but our goal is to try and keep a literacy coach in every building. Weâ€™re also in a budget deficit, you know 6 million cut in addition to the 2.3 million, so weâ€™re scrambling right now."
Bridgeport will lose $2.9 million. School Superintendent John Ramos says that puts all day kindergarten in jeopardy.
"Now weâ€™ve got to go to other grants and move that money over to this effort in order to keep that program alive. And I know both the Administration and the Board of Education are committed to keep all day kindergarten alive, because our community needs it."
Some members of the General Assembly raised questions about the effectiveness of Early Reading Success grants. State Senator Toni Harp says in some of the 15 districts that received the funds, reading scores were declining.
"Not every district certainly, but if you took them in aggregate the scores actually went down. And so the question became, here we are funding at the tune of approximately $20 million this Early Reading Success program and we decided that it was really important for us to figure out what was going on."
School districts used the funds in a variety of ways. Some lawmakers would like to see the funds targeted for specific reading programs. Norwich Superintendent Pam Aubin says lawmakers should make that clear.
"As I said to the Education Committee, if you donâ€™t want us to use the funds for class size reduction, if you think that it's more effective to use it for literacy coaches, then state that in your grant."
State legislators blame the economic slump for the loss of Early Reading Success funds. If the program is reinstated in the future, legislators say theyâ€™ll make clear how the funds are to be used.