Scuffle over school funding ensues following New Britain State of the City address


NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — A scuffle over school funding in New Britain. Republican Mayor Erin Stewart seemed to slam the school system in her State of City address last week. Now, democrats and teachers are hitting back.

“What I will not do is blindly throw additional tax dollars into a massive bureaucracy that is failing our students,” Stewart said in that speech. That line prompted a lot of backlash in New Britain today.
Teachers and democrats responding as the Republican Mayor seemed to hit teachers when they are working the hardest.

“We re-booted education in a year. It wasn’t perfect. It was subject to tough conversations with the superintendent, with other leaders in the city, but yet here we are,” said Sal Escobales of the American Federation of Teachers Local 871.

Here they are with the Mayor proposing a budget with no increase in local school funding for the fifth year in a row. New Britain is already underfunded, according to democrats.

“It means that all of the surrounding towns are spending 3-4 thousand dollars more per child on education, and the notion that we have a bloated bureaucracy is ridiculous,” said school board member Merrill Gay.

Mayor Stewart responded with a statement:

“I am happy to see that my State of the City address has spurred a community discussion about the shortfalls within the Consolidated School District. Since then, I have received numerous messages from students, parents and teachers offering their support and suggestions as to how we can better improve the quality of public education in the City.”

“There is one obvious solution here to save our schools,” said State Rep. Bobby Sanchez. “We need more investment from the state and from our local government.”

And more civil discussions when it comes to the budget, they say.

“I will never be the person who says we don’t need more money, and there’s always an argument to be made about how it’s used,” Escobales said. “That’s fine, but that argument shouldn’t be danced on some social media circus.”

Those politicians, board members and union teachers are not surprised that there were disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over school funding. They say they were surprised that it came in a speech and social media posts instead of face-to-face negotiations.

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