5

Establish an effective, transparent, and equitable way of funding public education.

Invest Intelligently

Total Points
Incomplete
12
Complete
2

5(a) - Redeploy Education Cost Sharing Grants

0 out of 4 points

Connecticut receives 0 out of 4 available points for redeploying Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funds.

On September 7, 2016, Judge Thomas Moukawsher highlighted a serious need to develop a new education finance model for the state, concluding that the existing ECS formula is not “rational, substantial, and verifiable”.1 Indeed, the most recent version of the ECS formula was abandoned in 2013 and replaced by grants that are allocated on a town-by-town basis; the total grant is still underfunded by over $600 million.2

Connecticut must find a transparent and fair way to fund all public schools. A fair formula must apply different weights for students with different needs, apply equally to all types of schools (including charters and magnets), and have an ultimate goal of having money follow the child.


5(b) - Reallocate Categorical Funds

0 out of 3 points

Connecticut receives 0 out of 3 available points for efforts to reallocate categorical funds.

In 2015 and 2016, budgetary reductions resulted in the elimination of several grants that impact low-income students. For example, from FY 2014-15 to FY 2015-16, appropriated funding for the Priority School Districts was reduced by $3.5 million.3 This line item was reduced by another $2.5M for FY 2016-17. 4 For FY 2015-16 $9 million was lost for the Commissioner’s Network,5 reduced by another $.7M in FY 2016-176. FY 2016-17 also saw the reduction of Alliance District grant funding by $6.8M7 and the elimination of the School Accountability program8.

Rather than making these types of cuts the Connecticut State Department of Education should conduct a comprehensive review of the specific uses of categorical grants and track their efficacy. It should then implement a plan to reallocate funds that have been ineffectively used so that they can be spent instead on efforts that are specifically aimed at improving achievement for low-income students.

The newly created Planning Commission for Education is required to recommend a strategic master plan for public education, which must including funding policies—including measures to promote effective resource allocation.9 However, the Planning Commission’s website appears to be inactive.10


5(c) - Establish A Statewide Common Chart of Accounts

0 out of 3 points

Connecticut receives 1 out of 3 available points for establishing a statewide chart of accounts to rack comparable data on per pupil expenditures.

Legislation passed in 2012 required the creation and implementation of a uniform chart of accounts by 2014-2015.11 However, contrary to this legislation, the Office of Policy Management has directed that “neither municipalities nor school districts are required to replace their current chart of accounts with the UCOA.”12

Furthermore, the statutorily required chart of accounts does not include sufficient data to link expenditures to student achievement.13 Without this associated data, the public cannot easily understand whether the investments being made in education are making a difference on student outcomes.


5(d) - Find Cost Efficiencies Such As Consolidation and Shared Services

2 out of 3 points

Connecticut receives 2 out of 3 available points for encouraging small districts to consolidate and/or share services.

Legislation passed in 2012 required the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to conduct a study of how small school districts could benefit from shared services.14 The resulting report explored the demographics of Connecticut’s small school districts, as well as financial incentives and disincentives for efficiency.

2015 legislation also created a process for the State Board of Education to grant innovation waivers15 to districts stimulating innovation or improving school district administration.16 This is an opportunity for districts to pilot shared service models.

The CSDE is hosting a RESC Special Education Funding Working Group which is working on how education regional organizations (RESCs) can provide special education services more effectively.17 The state could benefit from more training like this on how shared services can benefit districts.


5(e) - Apply for More Federal and Private Grants

0 out of 1 points

Connecticut receives 0 out of 1 available point for improving its applications for federal and private grants. The state should hire an individual with a record of grant-writing success to oversee the application of federal and private grants.


Invest Intelligently Rubric

5(a) - Redeploy Education Cost Sharing Grants - 4 points available

  • CT phases in a new ECS formula to be fully implemented over 3-5 years.
  • The new ECS formula applies consistent levels of weight for different student needs.
  • The new ECS formula applies to all public schools, including charters and magnets.
  • The new ECS formula has a long-term goal of having “money follow the child”.

5(b) - Reallocate Categorical Funds - 3 points available

  • The CSDE conducts a comprehensive review of the specific uses of categorical grants for education.
  • The CSDE tracks data on the efficacy of the uses of categorical grants.
  • The CSDE implements a plan for reallocating categorical funds that are ineffectively used towards efforts specifically aimed at improving achievement for low-income students.

5(c) - Establish A Statewide Common Chart of Accounts - 3 points available

  • CT adopts new legislation requiring a statewide common chart of accounts to track comparable data on per-pupil expenditures.
  • CT uses the common chart of accounts to compare expenditure data and data linked to student achievement at the school-, district-, and state-levels.
  • CT develops and implements a plan for using the common chart of accounts to review the effectiveness of programs funded.

5(d) - Find Cost Efficiencies Such As Consolidation and Shared Services - 3 points available

  • CT commissions a study to demonstrate how districts could benefit from various levels of shared services or consolidation.
  • The CSDE oversees a pilot program on shared service models.
  • The CSDE offers training on the specific benefits of shared services or consolidation for boards of education and district leaders.

5(e) - Apply for More Federal and Private Grants - 1 points available

  • The CSDE contracts with or hires an individual--with a record of grant-writing success—to oversee CT’s applications for federal and private education grants.
= Complete     = Incomplete

Sources


  1. “CCJEF v. Rell,” a Superior Court decision by Judge Thomas Moukawsher. Retrieved in September, 2016.
  2. July 2016 estimate by KSG based on updated data provided by the Connecticut Department of Education, March 2016 compared to town-by-town ECS appropriations found in P.A. 16-02, MSS, “An Act Adjusting the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2017.”
  3. P.A. 15-244, Section 1.
  4. P.A. 16-02, MSS, “An Act Adjusting the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2017.”
  5. P.A. 15-244 Section 1.
  6. P.A. 16-02, MSS, “An Act Adjusting the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2017.”
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. P.A. 15-05, June Special Session, Section 263.
  10. Education Committee. The Planning Commission for Education. Retrieved October 2016.
  11. C.G.S. Section 10-10c.
  12. Office of Policy and Management (2016). Municipal Benchmarks: Information Regarding Municipal Benchmarking. Retrieved November 2016.
  13. Office of Policy and Management. Uniform Chart of Accounts/Accounting Manual for Municipalities. Retrieved October 2016.
  14. P.A. 12-116,
  15. P.A. 15-05, June Special Session, Section 301.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Connecticut State Department of Education (2016). RESC Special Education Funding Working Group Organizational Meeting. Retrieved October 2016.