State to appeal landmark education ruling

School Classroom / Education

HARTFORD — Connecticut’s attorney general will appeal a landmark court ruling declaring the state’s education funding system unconstitutional and calling for reforms.

Attorney General George Jepsen announced the appeal to the state Supreme Court on Thursday. He said the legislative and executive branches — not a judge — determine state education policy.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled last week in an 11-year-old lawsuit that the state must submit plans to overhaul its education system and change its school funding formula within 180 days.

The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of cities, towns, school boards, parents and students. The plaintiffs said the current system relies too heavily on local property taxes and favors wealthier towns, resulting in a big gap in test scores between students in rich and poor towns.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy released the following statement regarding the decision:

“We understand and accept the Attorney General’s legal rationale for pursuing this course of action.  The Attorney General’s decision to appeal does not negate the urgency to take action for students.   It would be prudent to address the systemic problems in our educational system, particularly fair funding, in a serious manner once and for all in the 2017 legislative session.  Legislative action is always preferable to a judicial decision.

“Let us take this opportunity to act on behalf of all of our students.  We know that we do not need to wait for the legal outcome to start improving outcomes for our students.  We’ve begun to make progress by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in education directed at the students who need it most.  These investments are already paying off with students across the board showing progress in math and reading on state tests, but we know there is more work to do.

“We hope that this moment marks the start, rather than the stalling, of a statewide dialogue around finding a better way to fund our schools, which ultimately results in a better solution for our students and communities.  We should act together, and we should do it sooner rather than later.”