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Analysis, Breakdown of New ECS Formula

News

On October 31, Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law the bipartisan biennial budget, which was passed by the Connecticut General Assembly on October 26, for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Contained in the budget are several changes to state education funding, specifically a new Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula that is scheduled to be implemented beginning in FY 2019. For FY 2018 (the current fiscal year), ECS funding for Alliance Districts will be held harmless at FY 2017 levels, while non-Alliance Districts’ ECS funding will be reduced by 5% from FY 2017 levels.

Prior to the Senate’s debate and vote on the budget last month, we sent out our independent analysis of the new ECS formula scheduled to take effect in FY 2019, as well as information about additional budgetary changes made to state education funding.

With the budget now officially passed and signed, we wanted to share the analysis again as a refresher. Included in the analysis is an in-depth look into the details of the new formula as well as a town-by-town list of estimated ECS funding per pupil. The full analysis is available at http://ctschoolfinance.org/assets/uploads/files/Formula-Analysis-October-Bipartisan-Budget.pdf.

Additionally, we wanted to pass along a brief presentation we have created that offers an easy-to-understand look at the new formula and what it means for Connecticut’s students, schools, and communities. The presentation is available at http://ctschoolfinance.org/assets/uploads/files/2018-19-Budget-Changes-to-School-Finance.pdf.

Along with putting a funding formula into statute and moving away from — beginning in FY 2019 — the practice of allocating ECS funds to towns via block grants, the ECS formula contained in the budget incorporates several elements that move toward establishing a fair and equitable school funding system for Connecticut. For example, the proposed formula includes an English Learner weight, as well as a weight for districts that serve high concentrations of low-income students, and uses a more balanced measure of property wealth and income wealth.

However, the new ECS formula does come up short in a few areas. Specifically, state aid for special education is not disentangled from the foundation amount of the ECS grant, resulting in ongoing issues with meeting Connecticut’s maintenance of support requirement under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Additionally, the budget does not take steps to address the fact that Connecticut uses more than 10 different funding formulas to fund students who attend different types of public schools.

More information about these shortfalls is available in the brief presentation regarding the changes to state education funding contained in the budget.

We hope you find the analysis and presentation helpful. To access all of our analyses from the regular and special legislative sessions, visit the Funding Formula Analyses tab of our website at ctschoolfinance.org/formula-analyses.