STAMFORD, Conn. -- Stamford Mayor David Martin welcomed a Wednesday court decision that said the state's method of distributing state aid for education is unconstitutional.
Superior Court judge Thomas Moukawsher also gave the state 180 days to revise its formula in the lawsuit, which that was brought by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding.
“I am encouraged that the CCJEF case, of which the City of Stamford was a founding member, has finally been adjudicated," Martin said in a statement. "I hope that this decision leads to a thorough review of the funding process and methods of how the State funds public education."
He said the state hasn't met its obligations to Stamford's students.
"For many years, it has been clear to the residents of Stamford that with our extraordinarily diverse community, the state has not met its obligations to our students," he said.
"I am hopeful that the state will heed the judge’s order to carefully and thoughtfully assess student need as a central part to funding. We need to ensure that our public school system has all of the tools necessary for success.“
Moukawsher said legislators circumvented the existing Education Cost Sharing formula. Schools in the most desperate need of resources are shortchanged, according to the ruling, and the state must find a more rational and equitable distribution formula.
During the trial, plaintiffs - who launched the suit 11 years ago - argued many of the state’s poorer districts do not have adequate funding for education. The government’s position said the state had invested adequately in schools.
Moukawsher had a harsh rebuke of the school system in its entirety. He questioned the state for spending $1 billion on school construction and renovation, while offering $2 billion in direct aid to school. He also indicated some schools are graduating students who do not meet minimal standards, and said said teachers’ salaries should be linked to evaluations. He called the current teacher evaluation system "useless."
The lawsuit focused on six districts that the plaintiffs said were especially impacted. Those districts are Bridgeport, East Hartford, Danbury, New Britain, New London and Windham.
The state is expected to appeal the ruling.