Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Formula
The Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula is the method the State of Connecticut has established to distribute approximately $2 billion annually in state education funding. The ECS formula is used exclusively to provide state funding to local and regional public school districts, and it is the only one of Connecticut's 11 different education funding formulas that takes student learning needs into account.
The current ECS formula began being implemented in fiscal year 2019 and is made up of several different components: the foundation, student need-based weights, the Base Aid Ratio, and the phase-in schedule. This page provides an overview of each of these components and how they impact students, schools, and communities.
In an education funding formula, the foundation amount is intended to represent the estimated cost of educating a general education student who does not have any additional learning needs.
The foundation in the ECS formula is $11,525 per student. Additionally, the foundation “incorporates” the State’s share of general special education funding, resulting in approximately 22% of the ECS foundation amount being attributable to special education.
Students with certain learning needs are more likely to need additional resources in order to have equal access to educational opportunities. In order to assist districts and schools serving students with higher learning needs, school funding formulas often include weights for specific student needs.
Weights are used in school funding formulas to drive greater funds to students (ex. low-income students, English Learners, students with disabilities) who have been found to require additional resources and educational supports to achieve at the same levels as their non-need peers.
The ECS formula contains three “need-student” weights, which increase per-student state education aid for students with additional learning needs. Below is a description of each of the weights in the ECS formula.
Low-Income Student Weight
- Increases foundation amount by 30 percent for students who live in economically disadvantaged households as measured by eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL)
Concentrated Poverty Weight
- Increases foundation amount an additional five percent (for a total of 35 percent) for economically disadvantaged students residing in districts where 75 percent or more of the enrollment is considered economically disadvantaged
- Weight applies only to a district’s low-income students above the 75-percent level
English Learner Weight
- Increases foundation amount by 15 percent for students who are identified as needing additional English-language skills
Base Aid Ratio
The Base Aid Ratio is the variable in the ECS formula that determines each community’s ability to financially support its public schools. The Base Aid Ratio acts as an equity metric to distribute state education funding through the ECS formula, with the towns with the least ability to fund their public schools receiving the most state aid.
The Base Aid Ratio uses two elements to calculate a town’s ability to fund its public schools: a property wealth factor and an income wealth factor. The property wealth factor counts for 70% in determining a town’s Base Aid Ratio, while the income wealth factor counts for 30%. Below is a description of both factors.
Property Wealth Factor
- Counts for 70% of a town’s Base Aid Ratio
- Determined using a town’s Equalized Net Grand List per Capita (ENGLPC), compared to the state median town ENGLPC
- ENGLPC is the amount of taxable property (at 100 percent of fair market value) per person in a city or town
Income Wealth Factor
- Counts for 30% of a town’s Base Aid Ratio
- Determined using a town’s Median Household Income (MHI), compared to the state median MHI
- MHI refers to the income level earned by a given household where half of the homes in the area earn more and half earn less
PIC Index Bonus
The ECS formula also adds additional funding for communities that have one of the highest Public Investment Communities (PIC) index scores. Under the formula, if a town has one of the 19 highest PIC index scores, the town receives a bonus of three to six percentage points to its Base Aid Ratio — resulting in increased state education aid to the town. The chart below outlines the additional percentage point bonus towns with one of the 19 highest PIC index scores will see added to their Base Aid Ratio.
The ECS formula is currently being phased in over 10 years with the phase-in schedule differing between towns receiving — according to the formula — an increase in ECS funding over their fiscal year 2017 grants and those receiving a decrease. The phase-in began in FY 2019 and is currently in its third year. The phase-in will be complete in FY 2028.
Alliance Districts that would otherwise receive a decrease in state education aid, according to the ECS formula, are permanently “held harmless” at their fiscal year 2017 ECS grant amounts. Below is a table detailing the formula’s 10-year phase-in schedule.
It is important to remember the ECS formula is calculated on an annual basis using updated district and town data. As a result, a town’s calculated ECS grant will change as its district and town inputs change. Additionally, as a town’s calculated ECS grant changes, so does the difference between the town’s calculated ECS grant and its fiscal year 2017 ECS grant, which impacts the phase-in schedule of the town’s grant.
Other Formula Components
Statewide Guaranteed Wealth Level (SGWL)
Commonly referred to as the threshold factor, the SGWL determines each town’s ECS aid percentage. Each town’s ability to support its public schools (as determined by the Base Aid Ratio) is compared to the SGWL to determine what percentage of the per-student funding amount the town will receive from ECS aid and what will have to come from local tax dollars. As the SGWL is lowered, and all other formula factors remain constant, the formula distributes education aid more equitably.
Minimum Aid Ratio
Under the ECS formula, all districts are guaranteed some state education aid, even when the result of the ECS formula calculation would be that a town would not be entitled to receive ECS grant funding. This guarantee is the result of the formula’s Minimum Aid Ratio, which is 10% for Alliance Districts and 1% for all other non-Alliance Districts.
Conn. Gen. Statutes ch. 172, §§ 10-262f, 10-262h.
Connecticut General Assembly, Office of Fiscal Analysis and the Office of Legislative Research. (2014). CT Special Education Funding. Retrieved from http://www2.housedems.ct.gov/MORE/SPED/pubs/OFA-OLR_Presentation_2013-01-23.pdf.