More On School Funding

Early this morning, Genghis put up a post that mentioned Rep. Janowski’s proposal to increase ECS funding for towns that participate in the Open Choice program (currently, there is a perverse disincentive for for towns, in that increased participation lowers the amount of funding they receive per student from the state).

This is a good time to flag an On-The-Ground op-ed (run Sunday in the Courant) from the Superintendent of Lisbon and the School Board Chair of Hamden (father and son):

Gov. M. Jodi Rell is requiring state agencies to shave at least 10 percent from their budgets. This means that the proposed state budget will slash more than $200 million in aid to local school districts. Communities rely on these funds to keep local taxes in check and pay for the basic necessities of public education.

The proposed cuts will be devastating. The inevitable elimination of programs and teaching positions will gut instructional quality. In some towns, schools may need to be closed to save costs, even if it increases the number of students per classroom elsewhere.


To avoid this crisis, the burden must be shared. State government and municipalities must take bold steps.

Click the link to read their proposals for mitigating the effects of the cuts.

On a related note, politicians of all stripes, but especially our sometimes Governor, should abolish the phrase, “tax increases are off the table” unless they couple it with a promise to fully fund municipalities through ECS and PILOT funds. If they don’t make that promise, they aren’t actually taking tax increases off the table. Instead, they are displaying their political courage, or lack thereof, by claiming credit for a budget that doesn’t increase state income taxes, but forces mayors to raise property taxes or make drastic cuts, like closing popular and successful magnet schools. Gee, thanks.

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2 responses to “More On School Funding

  1. Connecticut already is the fifth highest spender on public schools per capita out of the 50 states and DC. While the nationwide average is $9,138 per student (this is the 2005-2006 school year, but the results aren’t likely that different for the most recent years), Connecticut spends $12,323 per student.

    Now, there may be perverse incentives created by state mandate or whatever, but is the answer to keep throwing money at education? Shouldn’t we be looking at ways to spend the same amount as, say, Maryland, which spends only $10,670 per student (stilll well above the average). Maybe it’s the fact that we have too many school districts, or too many state mandates. However, I don’t think the problem is that we aren’t spending enough money.

    If this were Utah Local Politics, you might be able to make that argument…

    Source: http://ftp2.census.gov/govs/school/06f33pub.pdf

  2. Now, there may be perverse incentives created by state mandate or whatever, but is the answer to keep throwing money at education? Shouldn’t we be looking at ways to spend the same amount as, say, Maryland, which spends only $10,670 per student (stilll well above the average). Maybe it’s the fact that we have too many school districts, or too many state mandates. However, I don’t think the problem is that we aren’t spending enough money.

    Connecticut also has one of the highest costs of living — everything costs more here. It’s not surprising that New York, New Jersey, Alaska, California are most costly when you consider the costs of doing business here.

    Does money matter? Yes. Can we spend better? Yes. For example, many research studies show that professional development has a strong positive impact on student achievement — yet money is sometimes wasted on canned prgrams from outsider consultants.

    Meanwhile teachers have to raise money for supplies in the classroom and take on second jobs to buy supplies for their kitchen. Nobody is getting a windfall working in education.

    We should also note that a Connecticut education is among the top in the nation. Connecticut sets a higher bar for NCLB than most other states and is successful in meeting high standards.

    Great gains have been made in literacy, providing education to children with special needs and severely underserved minority populations. Challenges remain, particulalry in the cities and ring-districts. Failure to continually improve education in more challenging areas will diminish our economic competitiveness, increase demand on costly social services, and place fiscal pressures on our police and prison systems. Oh yea, and forget about our property values.

    Continual educational improvement won’t happen for free. Reducing per pupil spending will not enhance education … can’t even believe that argument still happens.

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