In New Haven, budget cuts this year threaten after school programs. In Bridgeport, crossing guards and transportation.
For these districts and others, the situation is dire. While some groups want the state to hold off on making changes till an adequacy cost study is done, a new group is calling on state leaders to take more immediate action.
The bipartisan group, ‘Fix the Formula,’ launched their campaign on Monday, led by unlikely allies. The former appropriations committee chair Democrat Bill Dyson and former State Senate Minority Leader Republican John Kenny are co-chairs of the group. They want Connecticut’s legislature to work on a solution to fix the state’s school funding formula this session.
“It’s important that we fix the formula and do it in a bipartisan way,” McKinney said to the Connecticut Post. “We understand the enormous challenges the state is facing and the legislature is facing in terms of a budget but the goal is to get a better formula.”
“We should never delay the resources our children require to succeed,” said Amy Dowell, Executive Director of Fix the Formula CT and Education Reform Now, a non-profit advocacy group that’s sponsoring the campaign. “Our children and communities count on a funding formula that is predictable and ensures schools receive state funds on schedule every year. We see the conditions in the legislature to make this promise a reality.”
Right now, Connecticut funds educations through ten different funding formulas depending on schools type and location, according to the School Finance Project.
For example, the primary operating budgets of traditional public schools are funded through the Education Cost Sharing Grant or ECS. This grant is calculated by a number of different factors, including town wealth, the number of low-income students a school has an enrollment. In Bridgeport, schools receive $13,923 per student. Meanwhile, charter schools receive money through a sperate block grant of $11,000 per student.
In other words, the taxpayers spend less money on certain students based, not on student need, but solely on school type. Even within school type, the ECS formula has proven to be flawed — particularly for cities like Bridgeport, which receives thousands less per-student than Hartford and New Haven, despite having a similar population of students.
The way the state doles out education funding (among other things) was struck down last September by Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s groundbreaking ruling in the CCJEF v. Rell case. Though the case in now in appeals, Gov. Dannel Malloy based his budget on the recommendations of the court. Though, many are saying he didn’t go far enough because still funds schools based on school type and location.
‘Fix the Formula CT’ wants state leaders to come a comprise, following four principals, that they set in their press-release:
Core Student Funding: a base instructional amount for all students
Student-Weighted Supplemental Funding: additional funding for students who require greater resources to learn and thrive in school, including students living in poverty, English Language Learners, special education students and gifted and talented students
Equitable Division of Local-State Funding: a reasonable division of education costs between local and state resources based on a community’s ability to fund its schools
Effective and Timely Implementation: a commitment to fully funding a single formula and an implementation schedule to grant this funding.
For more information on the group, here’s a link to their website: www.fixtheformulact.com