On February 08, 2021, The Waterbury Republican-American published an article regarding a proposal to accelerate an ECS overhaul and immediately transition to a new school funding formula that favors the state’s lowest-performing school districts.
HARTFORD — Black and Latino legislators are proposing to immediately transition to a new school funding formula that favors the state’s lowest-performing school districts instead of waiting until 2028.
The legislature’s Education Committee voted Monday to draft legislation that will seek to accelerate the previously approved schedule for overhauling how education equalization payments are distributed.
A coalition of education equity and racial justice advocates rallied at the state Capitol shortly after the Education Committee meeting to urge the full legislature and Gov. Ned Lamont to support the change, which they estimated would redirect $420 million to the state’s neediest school districts and schools.
“We’re calling on Gov. Lamont and the legislature to close the education funding gap by $420 million this legislative session, and we reject the notion that we are asking for too much money, or the cost is too high,” Jamilah Prince-Stewart, executive director of FaithActs for Education, a Bridgeport-based nonprofit group that is a member of the Student-Centered Funding Coalition.
The proposed acceleration to the new ECS distribution formula is about investing in communities of color and breaking down the barriers of systemic racism in education funding, said Subira Gordon, executive director of education reform group ConnCan, another member of the Student-Centered Funding Coalition.
Under the current schedule, some towns are due to have Education Cost Sharing grants reduced through the 2028 fiscal year, while other communities are scheduled to have grants increase annually through 2028, including the city of Waterbury.
Black and Latino lawmakers acknowledged the challenge of getting fellow legislators representing communities losing funding under the current formula to agree to accelerate the changeover.
“It is not going to be easy,” said Rep. Bobby Sanchez, D-New Britain, House chairman of the Education Committee.
Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford, said legislators are only being asked to speed up a transition that the legislature previously approved in a bipartisan budget plan that was approved in 2017.
“Today is about accelerating a decision made previously to do what is right, what is equitable for all students,” he said.
Two years ago, Lamont had proposed to accelerate the phase out for some school districts that were scheduled to see decreases in ECS funding, but the legislature rejected the proposal.
“What happens is we talk about evening the playing field, but we veer away from what is right because of politics, and, for me, that’s starts with a real conversation about equity, and that conversation inevitably ends with justice in education, justice in funding, and justice in opportunity,” McGee said. “Until that is done, we’re simply giving our children lip service, something they can always see through.”