The following letter was sent by Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti to state Sen. George Logan and state Rep. Linda Gentile Tuesday. The mayor’s office forwarded a copy to the Valley Indy.
Dear Representative Gentile and Senator Logan:
Ansonia can no longer wait for fair and equitable public education funding. I am writing to you to demand that immediate action be taken on behalf of our students and taxpayers.
As you know, our economically distressed municipality faces unprecedented increases in education costs this year due to a skyrocketing special education budget and the impending loss of the “alliance district” program. Within the next twelve months our district will be in need of an additional $3 million in funding to simply maintain status quo. This amounts to three years’ wroth of ordinary increases within a single year.
Our community is in no position to support these staggering costs without imposing painful cuts to city services or raising an already high ta rate. We therefore find ourselves in the unthinkable process of contemplating budget reductions to departments such as our historic library, recreation programs, ambulance corps and police force. This, after working hard to raise our yearly education increase to an average of 3.5% over the past three years, up from just 1.5% over the last eight.
Ansonia has done its share to support the rising costs of education. It is time for the state to do its fair part.
For years our city has been shortchanged by the state’s “education cost sharing” program, which was designed to help needy districts shoulder the cost of public education. Yet Ansonia receives only 70% under the formula for state aid, while wealthy towns such as Fairfield and Greenwich receive over 150%. This has resulted in a lack of resources and funding that has regularly pitted the interest of our students against those of our struggling taxpayers — a scenario that I can no longer stand for.
I implore you to do everything in your power to fairly fund Ansonia’s public schools, and to do that in this year’s state budget. Our city no longer has the luxury of waiting. We need decisive action now.