As the Connecticut Department of Education mulls whether to close two technical high schools to deal with an expected $1.2 billion deficit, the state recently showcased a massive renovation project at the Emmett O’Brien Technical High School at a cost of $94 million, nearly double the national cost of constructing a brand new high school.
Connecticut teachers receive the highest average pensions, while Connecticut state employees rank second according to an analysis by a New Jersey based actuary. Connecticut’s teachers averaged $50,502 in pension payments putting them in the top spot, ahead of Illinois. State employees ranked second in the nation, behind California, with average pensions of $40,438.
Connecticut has a serious problem when it comes to educating some of its most vulnerable citizens. In a state with prestigious private schools and top-ranked colleges and universities, low-income students who attend public schools perform more poorly than their counterparts around the country. The only other state where school children are worse off is Alabama. Dacia Toll, co-CEO of Achievement First Charter Schools, shared this sobering reality at the Yankee Institute for Public Policy’s Milton Friedman Legacy Day Luncheon held in Avon on August 29.
One out of every five dollars spent by the city of Hartford goes to teacher salaries, as negotiated under the city’s 70-page union contract with the American Federation of Teachers. The agreement outlines in detail what teachers will get from the city – but reflects far less concern about what students will get from teachers. Last year the city of Hartford spent nearly $1 billion; more than half was dedicated to education. At $220 million, salaries are the largest portion of the education budget, with additional tens of millions of dollars spent on health insurance.
State employees who teach at Connecticut's colleges and universities won a unique opportunity in 2010: a partial escape from the effects of the Great Recession. The SEBAC ARP Grievance agreement specified that this was a one-time opportunity. However, Connecticut professors are still allowed to switch from the ARP to the state’s pension system because the IRS has not yet ruled the SAG award.
A Freedom of Information Commission hearing officer recommended Monday in a draft decision that the New Milford school system make teacher evaluation ratings public. John Spatola, a former member of the New Milford Board of Education, brought a complaint seeking the ratings. Although individual teacher ratings are exempt from disclosure, Spatola's complaint and the draft decision would set a precedent for aggregate information about teacher performance. JeanAnn Paddyfote, the New Milford superintendent at the time, refused to comply with Spatola's request for the information prompting the complaint.