The state should provide incentives for all school districts to achieve savings (and reduce their MBRs) through consolidation, sharing of services, and regionalization. As an incentive for school districts to implement saving initiatives, some measure of these savings should accrue back to the districts and not the town. Legislation would be needed to allow Alliance Districts to fully participate in this program.[i]
Current Connecticut Statute
Public Act 14-38 embraces the recommendations of the Uniform Regional School Calendar Task Force, which requires that each school district adopt a regionally consistent school calendar, by July 1, 2016.[ii] A common school calendar will make it easier for school districts to consider regionalizing expensive services such as transportation.
Public Act 14-47 provides $95,000 in FY 2014-15 for costs associated with regionalization.[iii] These funds can be used to cover the legal and other fees incurred when districts consider consolidating their services.
There is also an incentive for non-Alliance Districts to become more efficient: the Minimum Budget Requirement can be adjusted by up to one-half percent if the district realizes documentable savings through efficiencies.[iv]
About one-quarter of CT’s school districts have 1,000 or fewer students. These districts run the gamut from high-spending ($25,000/student) to extremely low-spending communities ($12,000).[v] It costs about $30,000[vi] for a study about consolidating the small district services, the funding for which could come from the existing grant (but it would have to be increased if more districts were to be included).
[ii] P.A. 14-38, “An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Uniform Regional School Calendar Task Force, Licensure Exemptions for Certain After School Programs, and Expanding Opportunities Under the Subsidized Training and Employment Program,” retrieved from: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/BA/2014HB-05559-R010756-BA.htm
[iii] P.A. 14-47, “ An Act Making Adjustments to State Expenditures and Revenues for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2015,” retrieved from: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/ACT/PA/2014PA-00047-R00HB-05596-PA.htm
[iv] Section 10-262(i) of the Ct. General Statutes, 2014 Supplement, retrieved from: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/sup/chap_172.htm#sec_10-262i
[v] Report on the Study of Small School Districts, Connecticut Department of Education, 2013, shared with K. Guay by the State Department of Education.