A City-wide PTO meeting is being held in Danbury tonight featuring the Board of Education, City Council members, state legislators and community leaders. The Connecticut School Finance Project will help lead the meeting about Danbury being underfunded by the state. The agency is funded by grants from non-profit foundations and helps schools find solutions to funding flaws.
Tonight's meeting is in the Broadview Middle School cafeteria at 6:30pm.
As area school districts face declining enrollment, Danbury continues to grow annually. An October meeting on this issue noted that student population increases on average by 120 students per year. There are 285 more students this year than in the 2014-15 school year.
School officials say Danbury remains 50-percent underfunded by the state, with City taxpayers picking up 70-percent of the cost to educate each student. School officials say the figure is nearly twice that of a similar district. Data released by the schools shows that more affluent towns like Greenwich are overfunded by as much as 63 percent. The district is looking to the state to release the $30 million of annual funding that was cut from last year’s budget.
According to the Connecticut Finance Project, the Education Cost Sharing formula treats Danbury as a wealthy community, despite the fact that student poverty has doubled in the district over the past 10 years. Because the state no longer adheres to the ECS formula, funding to school districts is now given out in “block grants,” or lump sums, some of which have been deemed inequitable because of how the grants are calculated.
Some districts that receive more funding have greater tax rolls or a higher mill rate creating a larger tax base. Other districts have fewer expenditures for English Language Learners or students with special needs, but receive more funding based on other statistics and not necessarily need.
In order to accommodate increased enrollment, Danbury added a new middle school and increased the size of several elementary schools. Danbury High School will soon add an addition. The District has increased its course offerings and programs at all levels, including an Early College Opportunity Program at the high school.