BRISTOL -Superintendents, Board of Education members, students and teachers from Bristol, Plainville and other surrounding communities will join the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Thursday at the state Capitol to speak to legislators about problems faced by local schools.
The event, titled “A Day on the Hill,” will begin with a briefing of issues at The Bushnell at 9 a.m. This will also include a seminar educating students on their role in government relations conducted by leadership at CABE. Representing Connecticut Public Schools will be Board of Education members and students from Branford, Bristol, Cheshire, Granby, Plainville, Region 8 and Waterbury.
Bristol Superintendent of Schools Susan Moreau said that she will be attending the “Day on the Hill” with Madison Fosterwald, a student representative from Bristol Eastern High School.
“Meeting with legislators is an opportunity to provide clarity regarding the cost of unfunded mandates and to discuss the grave need for additional funding for mental health services among our students,” she said.
Patrice McCarthy, CABE’s deputy director and general counsel, said that more than 100 people will participate on behalf of local schools.
“We have been doing this for more than 30 years, but the need for stability in education funding is especially poignant this year,” she said. “We believe that our legislative leaders will be sympathetic to us, especially in regard to the effect that mid-year cuts have had on local budgets. It is impossible to properly plan when that occurs and there are not many options for saving money when it does.”
Students, principals, superintendents, school board members, and some school business officials will then meet one-on-one with their legislators at 11:45 a.m. at the State Legislative Office Building. They will discuss the problems facing public school education budgets.
Andrea Saunders, chairwoman of the Plainville Board of Education, said the conversations will not be limited solely to funding. Discussions have, in past years, also covered such topics as unfunded mandates.
“We speak to our local legislators, Sen. Henri Martin and Rep. Bill Petit on a regular basis,” said Saunders. “We know that they share the same goals as us; to help us maintain what we have and reduce the unfunded mandates that the state passes on to the towns. They do as much as they can while they are in the minority, but even districts with legislators on the other side are hurting as a result of what the governor is doing to ECS funds.”
Saunders said she, along with Plainville Superintendent of Schools Maureen Brummett and three or four Board of Education members will participate.
“It’s also beneficial for us to see what CABE will be advocating for and what issues other communities are facing,” she said. “It gives us some perspective and new information and ideas to consider and take back with us to our district. I know that we will be supporting a bill to prevent the legislature from making mid-year cuts. People always used to say that the state would never cut ECS funding and never cut Open Choice grants, but it is clear that nothing can be trusted. They say one thing and then take back things they promised.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.