We can all agree that Connecticut is facing some very difficult budget decisions this year.
Our legislators will need to make tough choices. One choice they cannot put off any longer is fixing the way our state distributes education funds to towns across the state.
The courts have already issued a decision telling our leaders the current system is arbitrary, unfair, and must be changed.
Funding is currently unpredictable and has left towns that need help severely underfunded for more than a decade. Legislators must do their jobs and come up with a fair formula now. Otherwise the Connecticut Supreme Court will mandate a new formula sometime later this year.
We have the tools and data to create a fair formula now. We know what increases costs for school districts: the number of English language learners, the number of special education students, the proportion of students receiving state aid (e.g. Husky, free or reduced-prices lunches), among others.
We also know that a town’s ability to pay has to be a factor in the formula. Some towns have a large number of tax-exempt properties, like universities, and are unable to collect property tax from those entities, which shifts that burden to residents.
Some towns have been underfunded for so many years that their tax rates continue to climb. This cannot continue for even one more year.
We have the data. We have legislators elected to solve this problem. They need to fix this formula now. Contact the Education Committee members in the General Assembly. Tell them they need to work harder and fix this formula.
Jennifer Pope is a parent who lives in Hamden