Source: Kevin Maloney, CCM
Kevin Maloney (203) 710-3486
In last weeks of 2022 assembly session
CCM, COST and Faith Acts for Education urgently call on Governor and state legislators to enhance education equity for all by accelerating increase in ECS funding, holding harmless any town from ECS cuts, and uncapping special education aid for all towns
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today (Wednesday, April 13) in conjunction with the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) and the Connecticut faith-based advocacy organization, Faith Acts for Education, called on the Governor and state legislators to enhance education equity for all by accelerating the increase in the State’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant, holding harmless any town from ECS cuts, and uncapping special education state aid for all towns, in the last weeks of 2022 General Assembly session.
“The state’s funding shortfall disproportionately impacts Black, Brown and low-income students, yet equity is an issue that all impacts all Connecticut students,” said Jamilah Prince-Stewart, Executive Director of Faith Acts for Education, which has 80 member churches and 5,000 committed voters across Connecticut. “The state’ failure to equitably fund public schools has harmed and continues to harm thousands of Connecticut students and families. The state needs to take action now to equitably fund public education.”
“The Governor and state legislators can make a real difference in the lives of all Connecticut public school students – regardless of where they live – and the property taxpayers that support their local schools, by taking immediate action this session to enhance two key state grants that go a long way toward paying for the costs of and ensuring funding equity and high quality of local public schools in our 169 towns and cities,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director and CEO.
“ECS and special education have been woefully underfunded for years, undermining the quality of public education for students,” said Betsy Gara, Executive Director, COST. “The state must take steps to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide funding to ensure that all students have access to quality education."
Here are more details on what the State needs to do, according to the three statewide organizations:
Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant – Accelerate the time period for phasing in the statutorily-called-for full funding of the ECS grant, the largest grant for local public education and the state aid program overall for local governments. Accelerating the time period to fully fund school districts would inject millions in additional state aid into municipalities and their local public schools. It keeps with the spirit of the bipartisan agreement, which fully funded the ECS grants over a ten-year time period. CCM urges support for HB 5283, which would accelerate phasing in additional ECS funding while not negatively impacting those towns that will eventually see a reduction.
Special Education — Fully fund the state’s Special Education Excess Cost Grant (SB 232). Currently, the Excess Cost Grant is capped, which is negatively impacting local and regional school districts’ ability to address the rising cost of special education. The spike in the delivery of special education represents one of the largest cost increases annually for virtually every Connecticut municipality. At the same time, the Excess Cost Grant has been level-funded for several years. Fully funding the Excess Cost Grant will go a long way toward delivering quality education to every student in Connecticut while helping to mitigate property tax increases.
The ECS grant is the principal mechanism for state funding of local schools. The ECS grant remains underfunded by tens of millions of dollars. And more than one out of every five dollars spent on Pre-K – 12 education goes toward special education.
“A first-rate education system – and education finance system – is vital for Connecticut’s prosperity and quality of life,” further noted DeLong. “When Connecticut municipalities do not receive adequate state education aid, they are forced to raise property taxes, cut other vital services, or lay off employees. Local property taxes cannot continue to shoulder the lion's share of local public education costs. For Connecticut to compete economically with its neighbors and the world, the State needs to increase its financial commitment to local public schools for FY 2022-23.”
See attachment for town-by-town state aid at stake for local public education (source: School and State Finance Project)