NORWALK, Conn. – Some of Norwalk's laid-off teachers may be reinstated after the school district received money from the federal government, a trio of Norwalk officials said Tuesday in a statement.
The city of Norwalk will receive $365,000 in federal Medicaid reimbursement funds for special education costs in the public schools, State Sen. Bob Duff and state Rep. Bruce Morris, both Democrats, and Mayor Richard Moccia announced Tuesday. That money should be used by the Board of Education to hire back some of the teachers and other essential school personnel who were let go as part of the recent school budget cuts, they said.
"This was a particularly brutal budget year for Norwalk's schools, and I know parents and students and education advocates were not pleased with the level of sacrifice our children were asked to endure," Duff said in the statement. "These federal funds can be used to repair some of the damage that was done in the spring. It would be a small but meaningful step to show our commitment to public education in Norwalk."
Morris echoed that sentiment. "This Medicaid reimbursement is part of the larger revenue stream that should be flowing into Norwalk, and as such, it should be put to its best use," Morris said in the statement. "That means repairing some of the damage that was done to our school budget in recent months. I hope and pray that the Board of Education feels the same way."
Moccia said that although he understands the decision rests with the Board of Education, "I join in the call to restore some of the staff cuts to help maintain teacher pupil ratios," according to the statement.
The men thanked Gov. Dannel Malloy and Social Services Commissioner Roderick Bremby for their attention and cooperation in helping to expedite the release of the funds.
Earlier this month, Norwalk's Board of Education voted 8-1 to approve a $159.5 million spending plan; the projected school budget shortfall had once reached as high as an estimated $10 million, bringing hundreds of concerned residents out to speak at public meetings.