Under pressure from budget cuts, the State Department of Education proposed last week to cut two technical schools in the state. The specific schools will be determined when Gov. Dannel Malloy presents his final budget proposal in early 2017.
A result of a projected $1.3 billion deficit in 2017, Malloy instructed all state agencies to prepare for a 10 percent decrease in the 2018 and 2019 budgets. For the Department of Education, this cut amounted to a total of $82 million, with one-fifth of that coming out of technical school budgets. The state should close two of its 17 technical high schools — which prepare students to enter the workforce directly after graduation — and terminate all athletic programs at the remaining such schools, according to the report.
“This proposal represents options for what a 10 percent reduction would look like within the State Department of Education,” said Abbe Smith, director of communications at the department. “For our technical high school system, that may mean having to close two schools in order to ensure we have enough resources to continue offering high quality education in the schools that remain open. This proposal is a starting place for the budget conversations that will take place in the coming months.”
The $16.3 million cuts to the Connecticut Technical High School System includes $3 million is from suspending athletics, $11.4 million from closing the two schools and $1.2 million from continuing to suspend nursing programs. The Superintendent of Connecticut Technical High School System developed these proposals, which were presented to the State Board of Education last Wednesday.
The department also proposed cutting funding for the Commissioner’s Network, a group of the state’s must underfunded and low-performing schools, as well as six programs that provide tutoring services, including Bridges to Success and CommPACT schools.
But these cuts will not become official until Malloy presents his final budget proposal, likely in February. The specific schools to be closed will be determined then.
Before then the governor will review the recommendations.
“We’re developing the budget for the FY 2018 and FY 2019 biennium,” wrote Chris Collibee, press secretary to the governor, in an email to the News. “Prudence and statute require [the Office of Policy and Management] assess each agency’s budget for FY18 now to craft the best possible budget for the upcoming biennium.”
House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz (D–Berlin) strongly opposed the proposals. He held a press conference on Thursday saying technical schools benefitted many students in the state.
“At this point, we are calling on the governor to step into the process, to stop this from even being considered and actually take up consideration of pulling the vo-tech schools out from underneath the Department of Education,” he said.
Independent of local school districts, the state’s 17 vocational schools make up the Connecticut Technical High School System, a subsidiary of State Department of Education. They serve over 11,000 students, preparing them for advanced trade and technology jobs in fields such as manufacturing, marketing and hospitality.
These schools are of increasing importance as more manufacturing jobs come to Connecticut, Aresimowicz said. Purex-manufacturer Henkel is moving its headquarters to Stamford, Conn. while Electric Boat and Pratt & Whitney are increasing production and Sikorsky is fulfilling a military contract.
The nearest vocational school to Yale is the Eli Whitney Technical School in Hamden.