Say no to cost shift, yes to keeping students safe in school
Connecticut voters want to protect students, teachers, and public education and stand strongly behind students and teachers when it comes to legislative actions regarding school safety issues. They also expressed the need for the state to ensure the long-term viability of the teacher retirement fund.
According to a new survey, Connecticut voters want students to learn in safe schools where they are protected from disruptive behavior so that learning is the focus of the classroom. The survey also found that voters want schools to be healthy, free from mold that could damage the health of students and teachers, and safe from extreme temperature shifts in the winter cold and summer heat. They also want the state to keep its promise to teachers and not shift the cost of the teacher retirement fund onto municipalities.
“Voters believe that improving safety in Connecticut’s classrooms and addressing the needs of our students should be a priority for the state,” says CEA President Jeff Leake. “Voters want to protect teachers and students and ensure students in-need get the support and resources they need. Voters also want the state to protect teachers’ futures by ensuring the viability of the teachers’ retirement fund.”
The survey of 650 Connecticut voters, conducted by Lake Research Partners in late February, found that classroom safety is a top priority for voters.
- Nearly all voters (94 percent) support the creation of standards for eliminating mold, excessive moisture, and maintaining humane temperatures in the classroom during hot and cold weather.
- Another priority for voters surveyed is the classroom safety bill. Ninety-two percent support the bill that addresses disruptive behavior from students in the classroom to ensure a safe learning and teaching environment.
The top reasons voters support the classroom safety bill to address disruptive behavior:
- It will provide much-needed counseling to at-risk students to address their mental health needs (85 percent).
- It will promote a healthier learning environment (85 percent).
- It will make our teachers and students safer (82 percent).
- It will give teachers the resources they need to identify and help at-risk students (85 percent).
Voters also support teachers in their opposition to any teacher retirement fund cost shift that transfers millions in costs from the state onto municipalities, putting additional financial strain on taxpayers and pressure on already tight school budgets.
- Nearly two-thirds of voters (63 percent) do not want the state to shift its share of funding the teacher retirement fund onto taxpayers in cities and towns.
- Eighty-seven percent of voters support a proposal to designate a reliable source of funding for local public schools and placing the funds into a lockbox that can’t be raided by the state for other purposes.
CEA supports the governor and treasurer’s plan to smooth out the state’s payments to the teacher retirement fund over a longer period of time and lower the investment earning assumption to a more realistic rate; however, CEA opposes any cost shifts.
“The plan to shift the cost of teacher retirement contributions onto our cities and towns didn’t sit well with Connecticut taxpayers, legislators, and municipalities in 2017, and it doesn’t sit well with them today,” added Leake. “There are solutions to the state’s pension debt problem that do not require shifting the burden to local taxpayers, cities, and towns.”
Leake concluded, “The safety of students and teachers as well as protecting the retirement security of educators are top priorities for Connecticut voters, and we look forward to working with legislators to pass the classroom safety bill and legislation that manages future pension costs and keeps the state’s promise to teacher retirement without a cost shift.”