Federal money to save teacher jobs and relieve pressure on tight municipal budgets is on the way. New legislation is expected to bring $4.3 million to New Britain schools. The recall of teachers laid off because of local cuts can be anticipated when official word of the new federal aid arrives.
The school budget has been a contentious issue in New Britain in a mayoral and council dispute over Mayor Stewart’s controversial rescission of $1.5 million in funds to retain teacher jobs and avert crowded classrooms.
The Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, strongly supported by Cong. Chris Murphy (D-5), was signed into law earlier this month when the House approved a final version after the U.S. Senate approved H.R. 1586.
“To see the disastrous consequences of teacher layoffs, we only need to look to New Britain, where looming budget cuts were going to result in 40 kids to a classroom. We cannot tolerate this recession creeping into our schools, so with this bill going to President Obama’s desk, we can provide the additional resources necessary to educate our kids,” said Murphy following passage.
State Rep. Tim O’Brien (D-24) indicates he and his legislative colleagues urged the Rell administration to distribute funds under a federal Title I formula that would have brought $5.7 million to the city instead of the estimated $4.3 million. The Governor has opted for a local aid formula that should provide the city with $4.3 million.
O’Brien praised Congressman Murphy in his efforts to secure passage and President Obama for signing the legislation in time for the school year.
Democratic Town Chairman John McNamara said the pending federal aid directly addresses New Britain’s school needs because the approved funds prohibits states and city halls from using the funds for any other purposes than education. “The infusion of new federal aid and the efforts of our state legislators to successfully maintain state aid levels have been critical to averting the drastic cuts to schools this year,” McNamara said.
Murphy estimated that the 41-town 5th District should receive $23.4 million for education jobs, protecting about 325 teaching positions. He and O’Brien said the federal assistance, adopted without adding to the federal deficit, will help alleviate the need for damaging cuts in public education such as shortening the school week or greatly increasing class sizes.