The foundation is the most significant variable in the ECS formula. It represents the average estimated cost of educating a child in Connecticut.
Since the cost of education increases each year, the foundation should increase every year (or at least stay the same). In 1995, the foundation was $5,711, but the 2013 formula had a foundation amount of $11,525.
The ECS formula multiplies this cost per child by the amount of children within a district–a value that is adjusted upwards to compensate districts that have needier (and therefore more costly) groups of students to educate. That’s the “Need Students” variable.
For the purposes of the ECS formula, the product of the Foundation and Needs Students is a proxy for the cost of educating students within a given district. The ECS formula then multiplies that number by the “Base Aid Ratio” to determine how much of that entire cost a given district is capable of covering.
But even once you understand how the variables of the formula work together, there are still some strange exceptions and complications to read about!