MERIDEN — An education committee at St. Rose of Lima church announced it will host a parish assembly on Sunday in the church’s community center to discuss concerns about the school system on a local level and express support for House Bill 5003 on a statewide level.
The Rev. James Manship, pastor of St. Rose, explained that the concern for education in the parish came from a listening effort with about 300 people. Participants were asked what they would change in the community to make their life less stressful. He said that most of the responses had to do with education, especially issues around bullying, lack of resources and transition between college and high school.
As a result, the parish formed an education committee which has hosted meetings with state legislators and local educators. The committee is also organizing Sunday’s public action to share stories from parishioners.
“This is so important for our folks. In our preparation meetings, people have been sharing their stories,” Manship said. “Some of them we're going to have a plan to solve some of it and some of them we won’t.”
Meriden Board of Education President Rob Kosienski Jr. is expected to attend. He expressed interest in hearing from the public and a hope that the meeting will steer clear of political issues and stay focused on education.
“Anytime we have community members who are looking to help us do our job, and to support us, it's certainly worthwhile to listen and see what we can do to create a community of people who are supported,” he said.
On a statewide level, the committee is also partnering with interfaith organizer Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, better known as CONECT. In the past, the organization has advocated for social justice causes. Matthew McDermott, CONECT lead organizer, explained that the education team at CONECT is working with the St. Rose committee to advocate for HB 5003: An act concerning education funding in Connecticut.
“We're very much supporting them and bringing those local concerns to the fore and trying to figure out ways to come up with pragmatic solutions,” he said.
The bill was introduced in January and proposes a change in the state’s Education Cost Sharing model that allocates funding for school districts based on a town's property tax base and the income of its residents. If passed, the changes in Educational Cost Sharing might mean an increase in funding for Meriden. It would also change funding for magnet schools, charter schools and regional agricultural science and technology education centers
The bill received unanimous, bipartisan support from the education committee, but still needs enough votes for the speaker to pass it to the House floor. It has also been a topic of contention in the legislature. Either way, state Reps. Hilda Santiago, Michael D. Quinn and Jack Fazzino are expected to attend to hear their constituents.
“We're just going to be there to listen and listen to the parents and the constituents about what's going on, what they see should be improved, or suggestions and ideas for education,” Santiago said.
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re. To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.