More than $10.5 billion is spent annually on public education in Connecticut. State spending on public education is one of the largest expenditures in the state budget, and education spending is frequently the largest expense for municipalities across the state. With more than 20 percent of the State of Connecticut’s budget going toward public education, and education spending representing 60 percent of total expenditures by Connecticut municipalities, easy-to-access and easy-to-understand information about how school districts use their financial resources is a critical piece of a well-functioning school finance system.
However, despite significant spending on education, it is virtually impossible to access user-friendly information on school districts’ revenues and expenditures. A transparent school finance system requires all school districts across the state to report their revenues and expenditures, at the district and school levels, using a consistent and comparable system. Without this information, it is difficult to determine whether school districts are using their resources effectively or whether districts are distributing resources equitably across the schools in their district.
Two pieces of legislation (Conn. Acts 12-116, passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2012, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed by the U.S. Congress in 2015) require Connecticut to take steps toward greater transparency in education spending. This policy brief provides an update on the implementation status of these pieces of legislation, and examines how they impact transparency in school finance.