The Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Task Force was created in legislation that passed during the 2011 Legislative Session. Over the last few months, the ECS Task Force has been studying how Connecticut distributes education grant funds across the state. The current formula is more than twenty years old, and has, by all admissions, become too complicated. The ECS Task Force’s charge is to develop recommendations on ways to change how education funding is allocated to each municipality.
The ECS Task Force members have spent the last few months learning about the ECS formula and all of the changes, additions and compromises that have been made to it over time. Under the current formula, the state sends $1.9 billion to Connecticut’s cities and towns. However, in many cases, cities and towns do not believe it is a fair distribution that meets their needs.
To date, the Task Force has heard from other states on the construction of their funding formulas, and held two public hearings to gain input and ideas from a stakeholders across Connecticut, including a presentation from the Commissioner of Revenue Services, Kevin Sullivan, who was involved in the various stages of development and changes to the initial formula while in the Legislature.
The Task Force must submit an initial report on its findings and recommendations by January 2, 2012 and its final report by October 1, 2012. When the Task Force met last week, it was clear they were working hard to identify priority areas as they prepare their interim report for submission in January. Once the interim report is completed, the group hopes to use the following months to move forward on studying further and detailing how they hope to change the formula to benefit all students across the state in a fair, yet accountable way.
This is a great opportunity for a very intelligent and engaged group of individuals to determine how to fix the problems with the current system and effectively allocate the state’s public education dollars. In a time of limited state dollars, this group is correctly focusing on learning as much as they can from various groups and individuals so they can recommend the best, and most cost effective, way to provide a high quality education for all children in our state, regardless of what city or town they live in. We look forward to their findings.
Appointments, selected from a variety of areas in and outside of the government, have been made by Governor Malloy as well as Legislative Leadership. Members of the Task Force include:
- Benjamin Barnes – Secretary, Office of Policy and Management
- Dudley Williams – Director of District Education Strategy
- GE Asset Management, former Assistant to the Commissioner, Department of Education
- Portia Bonner, Ph.D. – Educational Consultant, Wolcott Public Schools, former Superintendent of Schools, City of New Bedford, Massachusetts
- Dr. Elsa Núñez – President, Eastern Connecticut State University
- Theodore Sergi, Ph.D. – Former Commissioner, Department of Education
- Len Miller – Certified Public Accountant, Co-founder of the Fairfield County Collaborative Alliance, Treasurer of Kids in Crisis, former Chair of Stamford Achieves
- Senator Andrea Stillman – Co-Chair, Education Committee
- Senator Toni Harp – Co-Chair, Appropriations Committee
- Mark Benigni – Superintendent of Schools, City of Meriden
- Mary Loftus-Levine – Executive Director, Connecticut Education Association
- William Davenport – Agriscience teacher, Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Director of the Ellis Clark Regional Agriscience & Technology Program
- Representative Michael Molgano – Member, Education and Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committees
- Commissioner Stefan Pryor, State of CT Department of Education.