Budgets · In the State

Gearing Up For Important School Funding Battle; Education Groups Weigh in On School Formula

Should education funding be based on location? In Connecticut, it largely is.

Right now, there’s eleven different school funding formulas — including ECS which the state effectively stopped using in 2013 — all largely based, not on student need, but on zip code and school type.

With the state gearing up for what seems like an inevitable battle over school funding, five education advocacy organizations, are urging state leaders to look at school funding in a different way: Instead of funding based on where a child goes to school, the formula, they believe, should be based on how much money it would take to educate each student.

“We need to start with what does it take to educate every child, then use that as the basis for the funding formula,” said CAPSS Executive Director Joseph J. Cirasuolo, on a call with the press.

“A study would have to be made to determine what is the amounts when we’re talking about core instructional costs.”

The five organizations involved, include; the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

The group of organizations emphasized that they weren’t proposing a specific formula, instead, today, they released a joint statement offering six guiding core principles they hope lawmakers should use as a roadmap for developing a new funding system:

  • Equity: Student learning needs and enrollment should drive state and local funding.  Students at all public schools, including schools of choice, should receive equitable funding.  Low-income students, students who are English Learners, and students who require special education services, should be funded according to their learning needs.

  • Innovation: The formula should incentivize innovative and efficient practices in support of mastery-based personalized learning.
  • Coherence: A single funding formula for all school types should replace the current ECS grant and the various additional per-pupil funding methods.
  • Transparency: Schools and districts should be able to predict their annual funding from both state and local sources and funding levels should be grounded in verifiable and transparent data. The formula should be subject to periodic reviews of its effectiveness.
  • Fairness: Education funding is a shared state and local responsibility.  State aid for each community should be determined by a combination of factors, including multiple measures of property and income conditions, and concentration of low-income students.
  • Accountability: State and local education funds should be used wisely, mindful of broader fiscal constraints in Connecticut, and districts should be accountable for how they use their financial resources. Education expenditures should be transparent and regularly reported so that spending can be compared across schools and districts.

To read the full copy of the “Design Principles for a New School Funding Formula in Connecticut” report:  here’s a link

“For 30 year’s we’ve had some sort of ECS formula in place, but they’ve never been fully implemented or fully funded.” said Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the CAS, who was also on the call.

Our organizations are very frustrated by this because our students are not getting the resources and support they deserve, and in fact, have been called for specifically in court”

Connecticut’s school funding formula has been in the headlines since September, when Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled, among many other things, that the way the state doles out school funding was “unconstitutional.”

“There is no unified or predictable formula to ensure that funding resources are allocated based on student learning needs,” said Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN CEO. “This reality was noted in Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawasher’s recent decision in CCJEF v. Rell that our state lacks a ‘rational’ funding formula.”

Though the ruling is currently going through the appeals process, during his state of the state speech, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that he would be proposing a new funding system to the legislature in February.





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