With his education reform package in trouble, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy summoned 30 mayors to the state Capitol Thursday to rally their local legislators to pass his package.
Malloy met with the mayors of the state\’s largest cities, including Bill Finch of Bridgeport, Pedro Segarra of Hartford, John DeStefano of New Haven, Neil O\’Leary of Waterbury, and Michael Pavia of Stamford.
The mayors represent communities that would receive $39.5 million out of the $50 million in increased educational cost-sharing funds under Malloy\’s bill. That bill was gutted by the Democratic-controlled education committee, and Malloy has said repeatedly that he will not sign a bill that he does not support.
When asked by The Courant if he asked the mayors to lobby their legislators to change the bill, Malloy replied, \”Yes.\’\’
The bipartisan group included Republicans from Stamford, Norwich, and other communities. Mayor Mark Boughton, a Danbury Republican, did not appear with Malloy and the mayors at the press conference because he \”went home to call his representatives,\’\’ Malloy said.
James Finley, the chief lobbyist for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said, \”Basically, he told the mayors and the first selectmen: your money is on the line.\’\’
The mayors represent the 30 worst-performing communities in the state on the Connecticut mastery tests, which are standardized tests issued across the state on various topics.
Finch candidly admitted that the public schools and the students are struggling in his hometown.
\”Our kids are getting shortchanged in Bridgeport,\’\’ Finch said. \”I looked around the room in there [during the meeting with Malloy], and I said, \’Take out Hartford and New Haven, and I have more failing schools than everyone else added together in the room.\’ … This is a very historic opportunity. We have a president, a governor, a commissioner, a superintendent, and a mayor all lined up to do reform in Bridgeport and I think, in many of these cities.\’\’
He added, \”Only 25 percent of my fourth-graders read at grade level. Ten percent of my 10th graders are at grade level. We have a national embarrassment in our school system, and we\’ve got to change it. And we can change it.\’\’
Malloy, the mayors, and legislators are working to reach a compromise on the package before the legislative session adjourns May 9.