Groton could gain an additional $3 million in education funding under a committee’s initial proposal to change the way the state’s educational cost sharing grants are calculated.
Last year, Gov. Dannel Malloy put together a committee review the formula for educational cost sharing grants, the main source of school funding in communities.
The committee’s initial recommendations, released earlier this month, offer two scenarios: a "hold harmless" scenario and a "no hold harmless" one, which would cut education aid to some wealthier towns while giving more to underperforming districts.
Groton’s aid would improve both measures: Under the "no hold harmless" scenario, the grant would increase from $25.6 million in the current year to $25.8 million; under the "hold harmless" scenario, Groton’s grant would also improve to $28.3 million.
It is up to the legislature whether to adopt the changes.
“We believe that the recommendations, if adopted, will lead to a fairer and more predictable allocation. . .” the committee wrote. It added, though, that once educational formulas are set, towns should receive what they expect.
“The uncertainty and unpredictability of the present funding creates undue hardships on districts making it very difficult for them to adequately forecast their annual budgets,” the committee wrote.
In Eastern Connecticut, towns like Groton, New London, Waterford, Stonington, Montville and East Lyme would see increases of varying degrees to their educational cost sharing grant. Towns like Ledyard, Lyme, Old Lyme, Preston and North Stonington could see contributions decline.
The proposed formula would make changes including these:
- Use median household income as the measure of wealth in a district, rather than per capita income and median income.
- Use data from the American Community Survey, rather than the U.S. Census bureau, which may be 10 years old or older.
- Consider the number of students eligible for free or reduced lunch in a district to determine student need.
- Allow education aid to be reduced in wealthier districts, with cuts of 2 percent to 9 percent to be phased in over four to six years.
- Provide a larger proportion of funding to “in need” or underperforming districts.