(Updated 9 a.m.) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced earlier this year that he would hold municipalities harmless and at the same time he would “bend” the Education Cost Sharing formula. Malloy declined to say exactly how he planned to do that Tuesday, but Wednesday morning his office released a statement saying that he plans to pump $50 million in new money into the formula, concentrating the largest share on the lowest-performing districts.
Under the plan 130 municipalities would see their ECS grants increase, while 39 towns will see theirs remain the same and no municipality will see their funding decrease. The city which will see the biggest boost in spending under the plan is Malloy’s hometown of Stamford, which will see its ECS funding increase 11.53 percent—more than any of the other municipalities.
Click here to see how your town will fair under the new formula.
“The fear amongst my colleagues is what’s that going to do to ECS [Education Cost Sharing] funding,” Rep. Joseph Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said Tuesday. It’s a fear many lawmakers have expressed in the build up to the governor’s address.
At an event Tuesday, Malloy reiterated his desire to help the state’s 30 lowest performing school districts which educate 41 percent of the state’s children.
“This is a comprehensive package, which will begin the process of redirecting our assets to the 30 schools districts which on some measurement are underperforming,” Malloy said.
Of the $50 million, about 79 percent or $40 million is earmarked for the 30 priority districts if they meet certain conditions and agree to participate in the program. Those districts include Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, New Britain, Meriden, Manchester and other urban areas.
Malloy will also call for raising the foundation level from $9,867 to $12,000 per pupil.
The 30 lowest performing districts will have new funding phased in at the rate of 2.47 percent of the gap between what they currently receive in ECS funding and the new formula amount. Other districts will receive 1.4 percent of the funding amount gap.
An additional $4.5 million in competitive funding will be offered to all districts – with a preference for the 30 lowest performing districts, to enable even more ambitious innovations and deeper reforms.
“It is critical that we get to the schools that are really struggling—and do it quickly,” Malloy said Wednesday. “We can get good teachers into classrooms, and hire the best superintendents and administrators, but we must address the overarching resources issue and fund the programs that will directly reach the kids who are at a disadvantage because their school is underperforming. We have held towns harmless, no one is losing ECS funding—which sends a clear signal to our children that we will make the investment and deliver on our promise of high-quality education for every student in Connecticut.”
In August, Malloy set up a task force to look at the ECS formula and refine it. The task force is chaired by Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, and Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes and isn’t expected to release a final report until October.
Its interim report recommended increasing ECS funding, establishing predictability, and using the best available data to measure wealth, poverty, population, and other factors.
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Executive Director and CEO Jim Finley has constantly reminded stakeholders that the current ECS formula is underfunded by about $800 million. Finley has expressed concern that Malloy’s solution would create winners and losers amongst municipalities.
Under Malloy’s plan no municipality receives less in ECS funding than it did last year.
All of Malloy’s education proposals, which have been outlined over the past few weeks, total about $128 million. The question now will be what he cut in order to focus those dollars on the state’s education needs.
Check back later this morning as the details of Malloy plan continue to trickle out.