Groton feels unfairly targeted with education funding cuts

(WTNH / Tina Detelj)

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Backed by school and town leaders Groton’s state representatives say state funding for education is being cut unfairly.

“Groton received the largest total dollar amount compared to any other school district and that’s about a 4.6 million dollar reduction,” says Rep. Aundre Bumgardner who represents the state’s 41st District.

He and John Scott who are both republicans say it’s political.

“Of the 57 towns that had deeper cuts 52 of them are run by republican legislators, senators, or town councils,” says Rep. Scott who represents the state’s 40th district.

The superintendent of schools says the state isn’t taking into account that a quarter or more than 11-hundred students are active duty dependents. 85 percent live in military housing and they do not pay property taxes so the $16-million it costs to educate those kids is paid half by taxpayers and the other half by federal and state funding. Dr. Michael Graner says the state’s portion is the same amount now being cut.

“It’s just fundamentally unfair and it misses the point I think of the unique nature of Groton hosting this large number of military housing units,” says Dr. Graner.

Representative Scott has been told Groton’s declining student population is the reason for the reduction in funds.

“They held us harmless because of our navy and coast guard students and then they are just ripping the band aid off in one huge hit,” says Rep. Scott.

“A 4.6 million dollar cut, our public works department is six million dollars, out police department is six million dollars,” says Groton Mayor Bruce Flax. “That’s cutting out two thirds to three quarters of one single department.”

Interestingly a state mandate doesn’t allow the town to make cuts to what it funds education because it can’t fall below what was funded last year. So the lost revenue if these cuts go through will have to be made up elsewhere.

“It would most likely mean a tax increase to the citizens of Groton,” says the mayor who was already looking at a possible tax increase because declining revenue in the town.

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