Updated, 10:07 p.m. March 21
HARTFORD, Conn. – In what they called a victory for Norwalk schoolchildren, state Sen. Bob Duff and House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. announced a plan Wednesday to fully restore education funding in Norwalk.
Duff, a Democrat, and Cafero, a Republican, had noticed a discrepancy in the budget that would have cut education funding to Norwalk. "A provision to preserve a $650,000 Priority School District grant was eliminated in the all-inclusive 163-page education bill," said a statement from Cafero's office Feb. 14.
About 20 people went to the capitol last week to protest the Educational Cost Sharing formula, including Drew Todd, president of the Wolfpit Elementary School PTO. "I think it's going to work. I think we made enough noise," he said Saturday. "There's not a person in Norwalk who doesn't know the system doesn't work. It's antiquated, and it's unfair. ... If we had proper ECS funding then we wouldn't be sitting here now looking at a $5 million cut the Board of Education has to enact in this budget coming up."
Todd credited state Rep. Gail Lavielle, a Republican, with setting up the trip and said members of the legislature popped in and out. Mayor Richard Moccia and Duff spent 15 minutes with Gov. Dannel Malloy.
Duff said that he and Cafero actually made the agreement with Malloy two days befpre the contingent went to Hartford, but couldn't announce it because the numbers weren't verified through the financial department.
"This has been a top priority for us and the entire Norwalk delegation," Duff said in a statement Wednesday. "We have been working closely with Gov. Malloy's administration to come up with an agreement that would restore the education funding."
The agreement to restore the funding was reached through discussions among Duff, Cafero and Malloy's administration. The specific language has not been written yet, according to Abbe Smith, Duff's press aide.
"I am confident that this agreement marks the beginning of a new direction for Norwalk schools in which our children will be treated more fairly when it comes to education funding," Duff said in the statement. "Rep. Cafero and I have been working diligently to remedy the situation and ensure that Norwalk schoolchildren have the same access to quality education that every other student in the state has."
Cafero said, "I am glad to be able to report that we were able to resolve the discrepancies in the revised budget put forth in February. We have received assurances that Norwalk will be treated fairly and that our education funding will be restored.''