Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

June 7, 2023


DANBURY – Danbury’s Democratic legislative delegation of state Senator Julie Kushner and state Representatives Robert Godfrey, Raghib Allie-Brennan and Farley Santos announced today that they have secured a legislative fix to cover a costly and previously unknown property negotiation error by the city in which it paid more for the Career Academy High School property than its assessed value.

This is an important distinction because under state law, Connecticut will only pay up to 80% of school construction costs – including property acquisition – as long as the property is purchased at a fair market assessment price; overpayments for land acquisition are not reimbursable state expenses.

The Democrats’ legislative fix delivers $10 million more in state reimbursements to help build the much-anticipated new school, rather than holding Danbury taxpayers responsible for the entire difference in funding.

Last year, Mayor Dean Esposito publicly announced that he would pay $57 million to purchase the Cartus building at 40 Apple Ridge Road to build the Career Academy, but two subsequent property assessments put the property value at only $36 million. The lower assessments were received by the city in April 2022 but were never shared with voters who overwhelmingly approved the Career Academy project at referendum in June 2022 – including the $57 million purchase price.

So, Sen. Kushner and Reps. Godfrey, Allie-Brennan and Santos successfully lobbied state officials to include so-called “notwithstanding” language in section 136 of the annual state Office of School Construction priority school construction bill (House Bill 6942) that was passed today in the House and Senate in order to ensure that Danbury taxpayers will receive another $10 million in state aid for the school construction.

“We did this because we care about Danbury, and we care about the Career Academy and what a game-changer this school will be in providing students and their parents to choose the academy that provides the greatest opportunity for each student to thrive,” Sen. Kushner said regarding her legislative advocacy. “I’ve been fighting for the Career Academy since day one, because I believe it will become a model for all of Connecticut and will set Danbury students on a path to a successful future. Getting this school built as quickly and as responsibly as possible is a top priority of mine.”

“The Career Academy is important for Danbury, and it’s important for 1400 students to get a top-notch education. We can’t risk any more delays in its construction or opening,” Rep. Santos said. “I’m proud to have worked with Danbury’s Democratic legislative delegation to ensure that we could financially cover the mistakes of the city and move forward with this project for the kids and their parents.”

“For over a generation, Danbury’s government has underfunded public education, including this year. Of the 169 towns in Connecticut, Danbury is DEAD LAST for local support of public schools. Year after year, the legislature has provided more and more funds for public schools. Where did that money go?” said Rep. Godfrey. “We have also been extraordinarily generous for school construction, getting up to an 80% state reimbursement, compared to the usual 50%. That has been true for the Academy in two different locations. But the city was bamboozled into paying $22 million over appraised value for the Academy property and failed to tell voters before the referendum. We’re coming to the rescue for taxpayers, and for the students and teachers of Danbury who continue to experience extreme overcrowding.”

“The city was in a box. It’s hard to negotiate for the assessed value when you’ve already announced $57 million is a good deal,” Sen. Kushner added. “We intend to continue working on this issue next year to ensure we’re getting the best deal for Danbury.”

“From my first day in the state house, I have been focused on bringing resources home to Danbury to relieve overcrowding in our schools,” said Rep. Allie-Brennan. “I’m thrilled to have worked with Education Committee Chair Representative Jeff Currey and our delegation to help secure additional funding for the Danbury Career Academy. Our children are worth this additional investment.”

“The $10 million secured for school construction costs is a vote of confidence in the students of Danbury Public Schools, who need a swift remedy to districtwide overcrowding and inertia of inaction by previous elected officials,” said state Rep. Jeff Currey, who is House Chair of the Education Committee. “Inevitably, Danbury is going to get the new school that it deserves despite decades of underinvesting in public education.”