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Posts tagged ‘ECS’

CEA Raises Concerns about School Regionalization, Teacher Pensions, ECS Changes, and More


CEA’s Jeff Leake, Kate Field, Orlando Rodriguez, and Ray Rossomando prepare to testify on a number of proposals with major implications for teachers, students, and school communities.

Teachers’ livelihoods and retirement security as well as educational outcomes for students are top priorities for the state’s largest teachers union. That’s why CEA staff and leaders came out to testify before the legislature’s Education Committee about various cost-cutting proposals that threaten those very priorities.

“We are fully aware of the need to right Connecticut’s financial ship,” CEA President Jeff Leake told the committee, “but that cannot be done by expecting local governments to fund the necessary payments into the Teachers’ Retirement System.” Cities and towns, he reminded lawmakers, are still struggling financially, and shifting the state’s responsibility for funding teacher retirement onto municipalities “is not the answer.” He proposed instead that the Connecticut Lottery be placed into the pension fund as a way of smoothing out payments into the TRS and reducing the state’s unfunded liability. Read more

Teachers, Parents Calling for Transparency Shut Out of Stratford Board of Education Meeting

Teachers, parents, and community members were shut out of a Stratford Board of Education meeting Monday after the board refused to change venues to a room big enough to accommodate all who wanted to participate.

Public officials are elected to represent the interests of local residents, but members of the Stratford Board of Education abdicated their responsibility to town residents Monday by shutting them out of a public meeting.

Though the board had received notice days in advance that the number of teachers, parents, and community members expected to attend the first meeting of the board, which was elected in November, would exceed the room’s capacity, the board refused to change the venue.

Some teachers, parents, and community members were consequently shut out from participating in their town’s democratic process at a crucial time for Stratford’s schools and students. Read more

Our Students Can’t Wait: Teachers Send Letter to Legislators Urging Restoration of ECS Funds

CEA President Sheila Cohen and AFT-Connecticut President Jan Hochadel today sent a letter to legislators urging them to convene a special session to restore ECS funding. Severe cuts in education funding are devastating the state’s public schools and shortchanging students’ education.

Governor Malloy recently cut an additional $58 million in ECS funding, and more cuts are planned in the new year. As Connecticut’s cities and towns struggle to make up these costs, many are planning to cut school resources, eliminate educational programs, and lay off teachers.

Read the letter below. Read more

Act Now: Prevent New Round of Planned Education Cuts

It’s being called “the nightmare before Christmas”—massive new cuts in education funding for cities and towns.

It’s so severe, the only option for many towns is to lay off teachers, right before the holidays. Besides the layoffs, the cuts will put student learning at risk, limit already scarce school resources, eliminate programs, and lead to larger class sizes, all in the middle of the school year.

We need you to contact your state legislators today.

Tell them: Read more

Hours Until Budget Vote: Contact Your Legislators Now

Mere hours remain before legislators are expected to vote on a state budget.

Don’t wait to contact your legislators. Even if you have contacted them in the past, it is important to do so again today. School budgets across the state are at risk.


Statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen on Governor’s Latest Budget Proposal

Educators across Connecticut urge legislators to quickly pass a budget that includes these essential principles:

  • Protect local school budgets and the education of all children
  • Maintain critical services for families and communities
  • Provide for a reliable education funding revenue stream

We have strongly supported reversing the draconian cuts in the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant that have been proposed in the governor’s executive order.

Read more

Legislative Budget-Writing Committee to Hear CEA Members’ Concerns

CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams.

CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams.

CEA members’ concerns about education and retiree health care funding will be front and center tonight at a public hearing of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee as CEA staff members outline problems with the governor’s budget proposal. Hearings before the legislature’s budget writing committee are an important means for members of the public to share their comments on state budget priorities, and CEA leaders testify every legislative session, speaking out on issues of importance to members.

The state budget proposed by Governor Malloy cuts $11.5 million of a previously agreed upon commitment to the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula while continuing to increase funding for charter schools by $9.3 million.

In prepared testimony already submitted to the Appropriations Committee, CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams wrote, “This disparity is not right, and in a time of shared sacrifice we urge the legislature to be even-handed in meeting the challenges of the budget.” Read more

West Hartford Teachers Call on Legislators to Fix the Broken School Funding System

West Hartford teachers

West Hartford teachers David Simon, David Dippolino, and Ted Goerner were at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford this week to tell legislators how they’ve been affected by the broken school funding formula.

West Hartford residents, teachers, parents, and taxpayers David Dippolino, Ted Goerner, and David Simon told state lawmakers that they and many of their colleagues have been hit hard by the state’s broken Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula.

“As a resident and teacher, I am being affected multiple times due to the state’s shortfall,” said Dippolino. “My work life is directly affected because my district’s ability to maintain its excellence is at risk due to repeated budget problems that affect supplies, programming, capital improvements, class size, salary, and benefits. My home life is affected because I am being asked to make up for the state’s shortcomings by paying increased property taxes.”

At a hearing this week on the Governor’s Proposed Budget Affecting Education, the teachers told the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee that West Hartford, like other towns, has been significantly underfunded by the state’s ECS formula, and that “the time to fix the broken system is now.” Read more

Education Funding Formula Needs Upgrading

Michael Griffith from the Education Commission of the States presented to the ECS Task Force yesterday.

Connecticut is below the New England average in public education spending per pupil, and it also spends less than New York and New Jersey.

That’s what the Education Cost Sharing Task Force heard yesterday from Michael Griffith, senior finance analyst with the Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan education policy group that provides funding information to policymakers in 49 states.

Griffith told the panel that funding formulas need to be updated, reviewed, and readjusted based on increased costs and economic changes.

“Never put funding formulas in place thinking they will be forever,” said Griffith.

He gave the analogy of a garden. You plant it, but you must continue to care for it, and weed it constantly in order for it to be successful.

Griffith cautioned about potential problems that come with sending local tax dollars out of the community and away from neighborhood public schools.

“There is a lot of local pushback when communities find out that their money is going outside of the district,” he said.

The task force is working on prioritizing a list of nearly 50 recommendations in order to present an interim report to Governor Malloy in January.

The group is scheduled to meet again on Jan. 5.

Competitive Funding for Connecticut?

CT Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told the ECS Task Force, "If we use the power of the purse strings then we can make progress."

Connecticut’s new commissioner of education is suggesting that Connecticut look to the precedent set by the federal government with Race to the Top and consider an education funding model that incorporates competitive grants.  “If we use the power of the purse strings then we can make progress,” Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told members of the state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Task Force at a meeting yesterday. “The barrier to achievement is a lack of political will at the local level. The right steps are not being taken.”

Pryor’s comments came in the wake of a presentation to the State Board of Education on Wednesday in which he decried the state’s lack of progress on the NAEP assessment.

Task Force Co-Chair Ben Barnes, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said the competitive Race to the Top model is one that the Task Force should consider. “I’m giving it serious consideration personally,” he said.

Barnes suggested that the current necessity to respond to educational need in local districts may be bigger than the traditional school funding approach that also has addressed communities’ ability to pay and their tax bases. “There are many situations compelling local educational authorities to rethink their traditional approach in whole or in part — there are times you’ve got to push that refresh button,” he said.

The ECS Task Force is holding regular meetings to develop recommendations on possible ways to change how money is divided among school districts.

Competitive funding was one of the “three Cs” Pryor introduced to the task force.  The others were committed funding — “formulaic funding that will help to remedy the imperfections in the existing funding formula” — and conditional funding.

Mark Benigni, superintendent of Meriden Public Schools and a Task Force member, pointed out the negatives of competitive funding. “Our kids lost out on competitive grant programs. Why would we want anything that creates winners and losers? There’s enough figures available showing where the money needs to go.”

Benigni added that “concern dollars” might be a better C to include, as that type of funding is what has enabled Meriden schools to head in the right direction. “The changes we made couldn’t have happened without the state and municipality working together,” he said. “We shouldn’t follow a model that pits winner against losers when we already know who the winners and losers are.”

CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine, a Task Force member, agreed that Race to the Top calls to mind a model where “the losers are usually the people who need it the most.”

Collaboration, rather than competition, should be the essential element. Loftus Levine said that CALI — the Connecticut Accountability for Learning Initiative — before it experienced staffing and funding cuts, was an example of an intervention model that really worked. “Teachers really bought into that model and welcomed assistance from outside experts sent by the state,” she said.

Loftus Levine also pointed to the complexity and enormity of the problems the Task Force is trying to address through education alone. She said the Task Force should be looking at successful places like Syracuse and Harlem, which are not asking schools to bear the entire responsibility of closing the achievement gap.

Inequalities are growing between poor children and those who are better off. Loftus Levine pointed to data that show that before the age  of six, children from higher income families spend 1,300 more hours in “novel” places, (places other than home, school, family care or daycare,) than their lower-income peers. “We can’t just look at what we do from roughly 7:30-3:30,” she said.

Benigni agreed, saying, “if this group is trying to address the achievement gap through education alone, we’re simplifying the problem ten-fold.”

The ECS Task Force will hold its next meeting December 1. At that meeting members plan to hear about data issues from David LeVasseur, director of municipal finance services at the Office of Policy and Management; Kevin Sullivan, commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services, and Orlando Rodriguez, demographer and senior policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children.

For more information on the ECS Task Force visit the task force’s website.