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Judge Rules Connecticut's Educational Funding Formula Is Unconstitutional

Superior Court judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled on Wednesday that the way Connecticut funds its public schools is unconstitutional.
Superior Court judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled on Wednesday that the way Connecticut funds its public schools is unconstitutional. Photo Credit: Ballotpedia.org

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Superior Court judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled Wednesday that Connecticut’s method of distributing state aid for education is unconstitutional and gave the state 180 days to revise its formula, according to CTMirror.org.

Moukawsher's ruling came in the 11-year-old lawsuit filed by the by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding. In his ruling, Moukawsher said legislators circumvented the existing Education Cost Sharing formula. Schools in the most desperate need of resources are shortchanged, according to the ruling, and the state must find a more rational and equitable distribution formula.

During the trial, plaintiffs argued many of the state’s poorer districts do not have adequate funding for education. The government’s position said the state had invested adequately in schools.

Moukawsher had a harsh rebuke of the school system in its entirety. He questioned the state for spending $1 billion on school construction and renovation, while offering $2 billion in direct aid to school. He also indicated some schools are graduating students who do not meet minimal standards, and said said teachers’ salaries should be linked to evaluations. He called the current teacher evaluation system "useless."

The lawsuit focused on six districts that the plaintiffs said were especially impacted. Those districts are Bridgeport, East Hartford, Danbury, New Britain, New London and Windham.

“The ruling is an indictment of the entire system,’’ Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton tweeted shortly after the announcement.

Moukawsher took more than two hours to deliver his decision. He started at 11 a.m., and took a recess at 1 p.m. He finished reading his decision shortly after the court reconvened at 2 p.m.

Moukawsher was nominated to be a judge by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and confirmed by the legislature in 2013. He first served on the New London District Superior Court and then transferred to the complex litigation docket at the Hartford District Superior Court.

The state is expected to appeal the ruling.

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