It gives me little comfort to find the already-trimmed town budget is counting on our share of state education aid to rise sharply, which may or may not happen.
Here is the key section from a decent overview story in today’s Hartford Courant:
“In West Hartford’s original budget proposal, officials allocated a conservative $11.4 million for ECS revenue, or the same amount it expects to receive during the current year, said Chris Johnson, West Hartford’s finance director. But in the $203 million budget for 2007-08 the town council adopted April 24, ECS revenue was projected to be $15.5 million, or the amount allocated in the education committee’s proposal.
“‘There’s a certain amount of risk and uncertainty that exists with it, but it’s the best number we had at the time,’ Johnson said, explaining the reasoning behind using the education committee’s figure. ‘You have to make the most reasonable estimate.'”
In general, I’d prefer a more conservative approach.
In one of the comments to another post, Joe Visconti echoes a claim that’s made by nearly every politician in town: that West Hartford deserves more state education aid.
Much as it hurts my own wallet, I disagree.
If the state has the money to pump more aid to schools, West Hartford should probably get some of it. But, really, the places that need help are not West Hartford and other rich suburban towns.
The schools that truly need more cash are in Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, New Britain and a couple of dozen other struggling communities where students live in impoverished conditions and have a hard time learning, for lots of reasons.
The future of our state — and our country — doesn’t rest on whether West Hartford can buy some more Smartboards. What really matters is that we find a way to educate students who face much bigger problems than the vast majority of kids here can even imagine. That takes expertise and money.
We all know that, however much we gripe about the waste so intrinsic to larger, more crooked communities.
I’d love to see my taxes go down because ECS aid rises. But what I’d love to see even more than that is a generation of kids in our troubled cities graduating with something close to the skills that West Hartford’s students possess. That’s how we’ll bequeath a better world to our children.
The General Assembly and the governor need to keep their focus on improving the worst schools, not fussing about how to give a little more to the state’s best schools.