CCM initial statement in response to Superior Court decision in CCJEF v. Rell school-funding decision

CCM initial statement in response to Superior Court decision  in CCJEF v. Rell school-funding decision

For Immediate release

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kevin Maloney: (203) 710-3486

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today (Thursday, September 8) said the Hartford Superior Court decision in CCJEF v. Rell on Wednesday represents a long-needed and major game-changer for Connecticut’s public school students, as well as for city and town governments and local property taxpayers.

CCM is calling on the State to move forward to implement the Judge’s well thought-out ruling and solve the problem of an unequal education system for the future of the State and not spend more time in court. We have already lost one whole school generation in court.

CCM and its member municipal leaders want to be part of developing an education-funding solution for the future of our State through necessary actions needed in the next 180 days and in the longer term.

Change is not easy, but the status quo regarding state aid for local public schools has not worked for some time and now has now been ruled as unconstitutional.

While the verdict discredits the methodology and formula for funding state aid for local public education, it does not say that the State is actually underfunding local public education. And the decision also pointed out it is up to the state legislature to determine how much to allocate for funding local public schools.

Key issues/needed actions back to top

CCM is offering to work with the State to develop solutions to address the Judge’s ruling as quickly as possible. Here are key issues/needed actions initially identified by CCM:

  • Fine tune a needs-capacity gap-funding formula including a rational minimum per student aid provision to cover the expense of student testing, a revised teacher evaluation and other state mandated burdens (this would eliminate the hold harmless clause with a rational system).
  • Accept the Federal standard for special education needs assessment and work with the Regional Education Service Centers (RESCs) to conduct these assessments on a regional basis to improve quality and objectiveness.
  • Modify school construction grants to encourage renovations versus new or “like new” construction. Cap the maximum cost per sf (indexed to inflation) and cap the state share to assure local participation. Modify charter and magnet school funding to assure that classroom space is needed…or require them to purchase and update existing underutilized schools.
  • Establish minimum school populations to encourage school closures and modify procedures to simplify formation or dissolutions of regional school districts.
  • Specifically encourage RESC’s to perform the services of school business managers for smaller districts since it is a state mandated position.
  • Allow the sharing of superintendents.
  • Have RESCs conduct teacher evaluations.
  • Develop a model teacher pay system to eliminate the current step and grade system to recognize qualitative measures versus quantitative measures such as length in service and degree. Authorize market increases outside of contracts for positions and districts requesting a designation of shortage to address market forces, and we suggest a three year grant to help transition to the new system.
  • Continue to encourage pre-school and early reading programs through Libraries.