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Gov. Malloy Proposes Changes To School Funding Formula

Ryan Caron King
Governor Dannel Malloy delivers his budget address.

Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed to change how schools are funded. During his budget address to lawmakers in Hartford, Malloy agreed with a recent court decision that Connecticut's education system needs a fix.

"I agree that we are not meeting our constitutional requirement of a fair and equitable public education system," he said.

The judge ruled that Connecticut’s education system was unconstitutional because the funding structure wasn’t equitable, leaving poor districts poor and letting wealthy districts off the hook.

One of the things Malloy's administration has keyed-in on is the Education Cost Sharing grant, or ECS. This is state money that's paid to districts, and it's based on need.

But lawmakers haven't used the actual ECS formula in years, choosing instead to fund towns "arbitrarily," the court ruled. This has led the state to under-fund schools by about $700 million each year.

The governor's proposed changes would -- for the first time in a decade he said -- incorporate a district's current enrollment in the formula.

"This proposed formula is fair and it is honest," he said. "It is predictable and it is sustainable."

According to Malloy, the new formula would also measure wealth and student poverty differently, making it more accurate.

But critics of Malloy's proposal pointed out that the new formula doesn't address the hundreds of millions that -- according to the old formula -- schools aren't getting from the state.

Mark Waxenberg, the head of the Connecticut Education Association said in a statement that Malloy's budget "threatens the quality of all our local public schools by dividing schools, parents and communities into clear winners and losers."

Most towns would see a decrease in municipal aid, while only about 30 would see an increase under the proposal. The governor has also proposed cutting funds to state colleges and universities by over four percent.

David finds and tells stories about education and learning for WNPR radio and its website. He also teaches journalism and media literacy to high school students, and he starts the year with the lesson: “Conflicts of interest: Real or perceived? Both matter.” He thinks he has a sense of humor, and he also finds writing in the third person awkward, but he does it anyway.

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