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Archbishop's Desk

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  • ‘God loves the stranger…’

    It is probably safe to say that everyday life has changed more in the last 100 years than it had...

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Milestones

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  • Franciscan friars merge provinces

    ELLICOTT CITY, Md. – The Franciscan Friars at St. Paul Parish in Kensington took part in a little...

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Youth

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  • St. Brigid School honors lunchroom volunteers

    WEST HARTFORD – St. Brigid School turned the tables on its faithful lunchroom volunteers by...

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During the waning days of the legislative session, the Connecticut House of Representatives blindly rejected an amendment that would have created a tax credit for corporations that donate to scholarship programs. This is the first school choice vote considered by the Connecticut General Assembly in 18 years.

The amendment, which was offered by Rep. Christopher Coutu (R-Norwich), failed mostly along party lines by a 98 to 44 vote (Republicans favored the proposal). The proposal was co-sponsored by almost 50 members of the House and Senate. Adding to the disappointment was the fact that some members of the House changed their votes at the last minute, voting against the measure when it appeared the proposal would fail.

The amendment was offered on S.B. 438, An Act Concerning Charter Schools, which contained provisions to change parental involvement in failing public schools and would have created significant changes to state education laws by setting higher standards for student and teacher achievement. All of this was done in the slim hope of Connecticut’s receiving federal money in the second round of the United States Department of Education’s Race to the Top funding. The reforms implemented for Race to the Top could cost the taxpayers of Connecticut between $13 and $20 million. During the first round of Race to the Top grants, only two states were provided grants and Connecticut’s application wasn’t even named in the group of Round 1 finalists.

The proposed amendment would have created a pilot program allowing "C" corporations and other companies to donate money to a scholarship fund. The program would have provided tuition assistance to students seeking to attend a private or religious school. There would have been a statewide cap of $500,000 for the tax credits. Donations would have been capped at $50,000 and the donor business would have received a 70 percent tax credit.

Scholarships would have been granted to children whose family income does not exceed 250 percent of the income requirements of the federal poverty line. (A family of four would need an income of less than $55,125 per year.) Only students entering kindergarten or transferring to a private or religious school would be eligible for the scholarship. Scholarships to attend a private or religious school could not exceed $2,500, or 60 percent of tuition.

Residents from the following cities and towns would have been eligible for the scholarship: Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, Hartford, Hamden, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, New London and Waterbury.

The expenses for this program would have been covered by using $500,000 from the taxpayer-funded mailing program used by members of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Seven states – Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – allow a tax credit for corporations which donate to a scholarship fund. In these seven states, a tax credit program allowed more than 75,000 students to attend a private or religious school, with more than $188 million being provided in scholarship funds in 2009. Many of these states also qualified to compete in the first round of Race to the Top grants.

It should be noted that private and religious schools in Connecticut save the taxpayers more than $700 million a year. However, during the past 10 years, 20 private and religious schools have closed, and attendance has declined by 8,000 students. This influx of students into our public schools has placed an enormous financial burden on our local municipalities and costs Connecticut taxpayers as much as $120 million.

Approximately 2,000 teaching jobs are set to be eliminated in June across the state. Additionally, eight private or religious schools have closed in the past two years. This will lead to overcrowding of public schools and it is another issue that will impact Connecticut’s education system.

The proposal would not only have provided the opportunity for more inner-city youth to attend a quality school, it would have relieved a burden placed on many public schools. That is why so many inner-city mayors support this plan, including the mayors of Bridgeport, New Britain, New Haven and Waterbury.

The Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents has been actively pursuing this issue as part of its legislative agenda for the past three years and we have made significant progress. We look forward to working with a new governor and legislature in 2011.

If you would like to see how your representative voted, please visit the Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents’ Web site at www.ctfcsp.org.

John L. Cattelan is the director of the Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents.

Events Calendar

July 2014
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07:30 PM
Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows, Simsbury, United States
HARTFORD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA TALCOTT MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL: The Music of The Who with Brody Dolyniuk, guest vocalist; Brent Havens, conductor Friday, July 18, 2014 │ 7:30 p.m. [...]
09:00 PM
Our Lady of Victory Parish, West Haven, West Haven, United States
Our Lady of Victory Parish Community will have its annual West Haven Neighborhood Carnival from 6-10 p.m. [...]
12:00 PM
Convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph, West Hartford, West Hartford, Conn., United Kingdom
The annual Tabor House GIANT tag sale/auction/bake sale will take place July 17-19 at the convent of the [...]
Date :  July 18, 2014
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09:00 AM
Doubletree by Hitlon, Bristol, United States
Father Alex Avendano will speak at a Magnificat Breakfast beginning at 9 a.m. July 19 at the Doubletree by [...]
09:00 AM
Convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph, West Hartford, West Hartford, Conn., United Kingdom
The annual Tabor House GIANT tag sale/auction/bake sale will take place July 17-19 at the convent of the [...]
09:00 PM
Our Lady of Victory Parish, West Haven, West Haven, United States
Our Lady of Victory Parish Community will have its annual West Haven Neighborhood Carnival from 6-10 p.m. [...]
Date :  July 19, 2014
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12:00 AM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, Bristol, United States
A “Fundamental Football Clinic” for players in grades four through nine is planned for the week of July 21 at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol.
Date :  July 21, 2014
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12:30 PM
Chippanee Golf Club, Bristol, Bristol, United States
The 15th annual Rev. Robert A. Lysz Memorial Golf Tournament will have a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. July 31 at [...]
Date :  July 31, 2014

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