Danbury teachers protest lack of school funding
DANBURY — A group of more than 20 sign-waving educators dressed in red protested outside Pembroke Elementary School Wednesday morning in solidarity with a nationwide call for increased education funding.
Drivers honked their horns as they passed by the teachers on Pembroke Road. The educators before their 8:30 a.m. contracted start time.
“Teachers are the foundation, and we’re trying to build a skyscraper on the foundation of a house. Without the proper funding, we’re carrying all the burden — and we can’t do it all anymore with what we have,” said Erin Daly, third grade teacher and president of the teachers union NEA-Danbury.
The protest is part of a larger movement of teacher walkouts and protests called Red for Ed. It was organized locally by NEA-Danbury, which called on City Hall to spend more money on Danbury’s growing student population.
“We’ve been rallying since April about the budget,” Daly said. “We’ve been going to city council meetings and board of education meetings — we had over 100 teachers showed up at the final budget resolution, which did not get the money we had been hoping for.”
Danbury is last in Connecticut in per-pupil spending, according to the latest available state records. The city spends $12,830 per student, compared to the state average of $16,990.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton responded that the current education budget is $5 million more than the previous year’s, and that the city doesn’t get its fair share of Education Cost Sharing aid from Hartford.
Meanwhile Danbury’s enrollment of 11,500 continues to grow at one of the highest rates in the state, at a time when most districts are dealing with enrollment declines.
Regardless, Boughton said, Danbury has seven schools of distinction, and Danbury outperforms other city school districts that spend more per pupil, such as Hartford.
The teachers planned to return to class for the first period and resume their protest after class.
Danbury teachers have staged similar Red for Ed protests recently, including a demonstration at Broadview Middle School two weeks ago.