Big education budget cuts — and potentially lots of smaller ones

Cuts to the state’s primary education grant and teachers pension payments are just the beginning of the reductions towns might see in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget.

About $550 million in other education-related grants are also on the chopping block, with recommended cuts ranging from 10 percent to complete elimination of funding. These categorical grants pay for things such as healthy lunches, school breakfast, supports for English learners, juvenile justice diversion programs or magnet schools that enroll students from surrounding communities.

Typically, it’s hard for legislators and the public to get a true picture of how much line item cuts will cost their municipalities since many of them are awarded on a competitive basis or divided up long after the state budget has passed.

This year is different.

Worried how the smaller cuts will affect their communities – coupled with the $350 million in cuts the governor is seeking to the state’s principal education funding mechanisms – legislators asked for a complete town-by-town rundown of how much each municipality received last fiscal year for each education grant.

On Monday, when getting the details in print, legislators began immediately looking to see which grants their communities receive could be affected.

“It’s another foist off to our towns,” Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, the co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Education Committee, told the state’s education commissioner and legislators on Monday.

She was talking about the $21 million cut to regional magnet schools that towns depend on to run; then continued down a list of other recommended cuts. “That’s another cut to our towns,” she said,  pointing out reductions to the agriculture programs run by local school districts.

For many of the state’s most impoverished districts, 20 percent of their education aid is derived from these separate grants. In Hartford, which operates several magnets schools, they account for 50 percent of their state education aid.

See the graphic below for details on which grants your town receives.

If you want to see how much the governor is proposing to reduce those grants, look them up in The Mirror’s budget tracker here.