Groton could lose education funding in Malloy’s budget

February 14, 2017

WFSB 3 Connecticut

The push-back continues over Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget cuts.

Cities and towns are facing a loss of millions in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) money, which towns get to offset education costs.

Groton is at the top of the hit list.

In his budget, Malloy said he wanted to make state aid distributed in a fairer way.

Groton officials said the governor’s new calculation punishes them unfairly.

“Governor Malloy’s convoluted mathematical formula delivers the largest cut in education funding to Groton,” said Groton Republican State Senator Heather Somers.

In Malloy’s budget, Groton would lose more than $14 million.

The town manager says the cuts would affect everyone.

“We would have to raise the mill rate by 4 mills, which is a 22 percent increase,” said Groton Town Manager Mark Oefinger.

In his new budget, Malloy said he was looking for a fairer way to give state aid, that wealthier towns with more resources would get less and poorer communities would get more.

On the ECS cuts, the governor said “a disproportionate share of economic burden continues to be borne by those least able to take more on,” and points out Groton lost 10 percent of its students in the past four years, but didn’t lose any grant money. They also have a surplus of nearly $17 million.

Groton is unique because it’s the only community with a sub base.

According to the town, 1,100 military children attend Groton schools.

While they are covered by federal health insurance, more than 40 percent fall below the poverty line and qualify for free and reduced lunches.

The superintendent believes Groton is getting shortchanged because military children are not on state welfare, but says they are still poor.

“To target the community by using this unfair formula is unreasonable,” said Groton Superintendent of Schools Mike Graner.

The governor says this is starting point, and it’s an important to start conversation over some of the state’s cities that are failing, struggling financially.

He said he is willing to talk and hear from town leaders