Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are some of the obstacles Connecticut faces to achieving equitable school funding for all its public school students?
A: While the General Assembly has taken steps toward equitably funding Connecticut’s public school students, the state still faces several obstacles to implementing and maintaining a fully equitable education finance system. These obstacles include:

  • The education finance system remains disjointed: Connecticut continues to use more than 10 different funding formulas. Only one of these formulas takes student and community needs fully into consideration. Instead, these formulas are based on where a school is located and what type of school it is (local district, magnet, charter, etc.).
  • Local property taxes very widely: Local property taxes are the largest source of funding for public schools. Community wealth varies widely in our state and some communities have very low property tax rates, while other communities have high property tax rates. This means some communities are able to fund their schools at higher levels than others.
  • Higher-need students doesn’t necessarily translate to greater resources: Despite research showing that higher-need students, such as those who are low-income or English Learners, often need more resources to achieve at levels similar to their non-need peers, there continues to be no correlation in Connecticut between the percentage of low-income and English Learner students a district serves and its per-pupil spending.

Q: How much money is spent on public education in Connecticut each year?
A: In fiscal year 2018, nearly $11.4 billion was spent on public education in Connecticut. Roughly 96% of this funding came from state and local sources. State and local elected officials decide how much funding public schools receive and how that money is distributed to schools and districts.

Q: How is my local public school funded?
A: Local public school districts are funded through a combination of local, state, and federal tax dollars. Local property taxes are the largest source of revenue for public schools (58%), followed by state taxes (37.8%), and federal taxes (4.2%).

Q: Who decides how much funding my local public school receives?
A: A city or town’s governing body (normally called the city/town council, board of alderman, or common council) approves the budget for its local public school district. In some communities, there is also a budget referendum, in which the voters in the community approve the budget.

Q: How does the state decide how much money each school receives?
A: Connecticut’s legislature has established more than 10 different funding formulas to determine how much money public schools should receive. The formula that distributes funding to local public school districts is called the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula.

Q: What is the ECS formula?
A: The Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula is the method the State of Connecticut has established to distribute approximately $2 billion in state education funding to local public school districts. In October 2017, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a new ECS formula as part of the state’s biennial budget bill for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The new ECS formula began being implemented in fiscal year 2019, which started on July 1, 2018, and includes a 10-year phase-in/out schedule for district full funding.

Q: What factors does the ECS formula take into consideration to determine how much state education funding a local school district will receive?
A: The ECS formula uses the following factors to determine how to distribute state education funding:

  • The number of students who live in a city/town (resident student count)
  • An amount that represents the cost of educating a student (the foundation)
  • The number of low-income students in a city/town (low-income student weight)
  • Whether 75 percent or more of a district’s student enrollment is identified as low-income (concentrated poverty weight)
  • The number of students who are English Learners in a city/town (English Learner weight)
  • A measure of the city/town’s wealth to determine how much a city/town must raise from its property taxes to pay education costs, and how much state funding is needed to help offset these costs (base aid ratio)

Q: When did Connecticut begin using the current ECS formula?
A: The current ECS formula began being implemented in fiscal year 2019 and will be phased in over 10 years. The formula’s phase-in schedule is detailed in the chart below.

Q: What are the other education funding formulas?
A: Connecticut has different funding formulas for each “type” of school choice program. In addition to the ECS formula, Connecticut uses five different formulas for magnet schools, two different formulas for charter schools, and individual formulas for the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System, agriscience programs, and the Open Choice program.

Q: What is the mission of the School and State Finance Project?
A: Founded in 2015, the School and State Finance Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy organization, focused on education funding and state finance issues, with a commitment to providing independent analysis, building public knowledge, improving transparency, and developing fair, sustainable solutions.


Conn. Gen. Statutes ch. 172, § 10-262f.
Conn. Gen. Statutes ch. 172, § 10-262h.
Connecticut General Assembly, Office of Legislative Research. (2013). Task Force to Study State Education Funding Final Report. Retrieved from
Duncombe, W. D., & Yinger, J. (2004). How Much More Does a Disadvantaged Student Cost? (Working Paper). Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Center for Policy Research. Available from
Gándara, P., & Rumberger, R.W. (2007). Defining an Adequate Education for English Learners. Retrieved from
Moran, J.D., & Bolger, A. (2018). Comparison of Charter, Magnet, Agricultural Science Centers, and Technical High Schools (2018-R-0030). Hartford, CT: Connecticut General Assembly, Office of Legislative Research. Retrieved from
U.S. Census Bureau. (2020). Table 1: Summary of Public Elementary-Secondary School System Finances by State: Fiscal Year 2018. 2018 Annual Survey of School System Finances. Washington, DC: Author. Available from