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Analysis of State Education Funding Changes in Bipartisan Budget Proposal

News

On October 25, legislative leaders released a bipartisan budget proposal (S.B. 1502) that included several changes to the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula and state education funding. In an effort to provide useful information for policymakers, educators, community leaders, and all individuals interested in how Connecticut funds its public schools, the Connecticut School Finance Project has prepared an independent analysis examining these changes. The analysis is available at http://ctschoolfinance.org/assets/uploads/files/Formula-Analysis-October-Bipartisan-Budget.pdf.

The analysis details the components and characteristics of the state education funding changes contained in the budget proposal. The analysis also examines the formula based on a series of equity metrics and includes a town-by-town list of estimated ECS funding per pupil under the proposal.

Along with putting a funding formula into statute and moving away from — beginning in fiscal year 2019 — the practice of allocating ECS funds to towns via arbitrary block grants, the ECS formula contained in this budget proposal incorporates several elements that are key to 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.

While the proposed ECS formula does take several steps in the right direction toward equitable funding, it does come up short in a few areas. Specifically, the budget proposal does not separate special education funding 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 proposal does not take steps to deal with the fact that Connecticut uses more than 10 different funding formulas to fund students who attend different types of public schools.

Along with the full ECS formula analysis, with the release of the bipartisan budget proposal, the Connecticut School Finance Project has also updated two documents:

These documents compare the four most recent school finance proposals side-by-side and detail how each proposal would distribute state education funding. Like all of our analyses from the regular and special legislative sessions, each of these documents can be found under the Funding Formula Analyses tab of our website at ctschoolfinance.org/formula-analyses. We hope you find this analysis helpful, and should you have any questions or comments regarding the analysis, please email us at info@ctschoolfinance.org.