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Malloy’s Proposed Budget Provides a Fairer Distribution of Education Aid

Bristol Board of Education

Bristol Board of Education

Governor Malloy announced that the state budget proposal he will release later this week includes a bold, forward-thinking plan to address disparities in funding the state’s education system, stressing that waiting for further judicial action on the matter will only result in wasted time and wasted opportunity on behalf of students in Connecticut.

“Investments in education are critical because they are a down payment on Connecticut’s future – on our ability to attract business, on our ability to create jobs, and on our ability to ensure the most talented and skilled workforce in the country,” Governor Malloy said. “To do that, we need to ensure that all students – regardless of their life circumstances or their zip code – have access to a quality public education. I do not believe the formula the state currently operates under meets that standard, and the recent CCJEF ruling agrees.

We must not wait for further court orders before taking bold action to address fair and equitable funding of our public schools. Any delay and any inaction in repairing how we fund the state’s education system is simply wasted time – especially for the young students of our state whose future opportunities in life depend on the decisions we are making today. We cannot delay any further. Let’s take action in how we fund education and let’s do it now.”

The Governor is proposing an updated Education Cost Sharing grant formula – the state’s main public education grant awarded to every municipality – that is more equitable, transparent, and fair. For the first time in more than a decade, this formula will count current enrollment, and it recognizes shifting demographics of small towns and growing cities. And in order to better ensure support is directed to communities with higher concentrations of poverty, it will use a more accurate measure of poverty by replacing the free and reduced price lunch measure with HUSKY A data.

In addition, the Governor is proposing to adjust how the state funds special education by decoupling it from the ECS formula. Under the proposal, a new Special Education Grant will be created and funds allocated on an adjusting scale based on a municipality’s relative wealth in order to provide a more transparent approach to special education resources and needs. Local districts will be required to seek Medicaid reimbursement for eligible special education services. They will continue to share the additional federal revenue with the state. Governor Malloy is also proposing to allocate an additional $10 million towards special education, the first increase in many years.

Finally, Governor Malloy is proposing to provide towns and cities with additional relief and flexibility by modifying the state’s Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) – the state law requiring municipalities to allocate at least the same town education aid as they did in the previous fiscal year – in several ways. First, for towns that will see an increase in state education aid during the upcoming fiscal year, the MBR requirement will be set at the Fiscal Year 2017 level. For any district that may see a decrease in its ECS grants, this MBR can be reduced by a sum equal to the difference of its Fiscal Year 2018 ECS grant minus its adjusted Fiscal Year 2017 ECS grant.

Additionally, his proposal provides towns that fail to meet the MBR due to financial hardship with the ability to apply to the State Board of Education to seek a waiver.

Last, starting in Fiscal Year 2019, the Governor is proposing to eliminate the MBR for all school districts that are not participating in the state’s Alliance District program and require the State Department of Education to develop recommendations for an alternate method of ensuring adequate local funding of education.

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