The following article appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Edition of The Hour. Both city and state representatives, along with NEF, the PTOC and Red Apples have continued to voice concerns over the inherent flaws in the state’s current Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) formula. Representative Gail Lavielle, even went so far as to propose an amendment to correct the formula, which penalizes communities such as Norwalk, with purportedly high grand list property values but low median income.
Below is the article:
Changes to ECS formula proposed, failed, but scored a win
NORWALK — While the amendment to change the Education Cost Sharing formula failed, its sponsor is scoring it a victory in Norwalk’s fight to get equitable funding.
State Rep. Gail Lavielle’s, R-143, amendment would have allowed cities with a significant difference between its net grand list and its median income to decrease by 10 percent the net grand list’s value in the formula’s calculation.
“I thought there was good discussion around it and it has been flagged as an important issue,” Lavielle said. “And from that point of view I’m pleased we had this discussion. I think we’ve put Norwalk’s ECS issue on the radar screen.”
Critics of the current Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula say the weight of the grand list negatively affects cities with high property values and low median incomes, Norwalk included. That disparity makes various cities and towns seem more affluent than they already are. Lavielle called Norwalk’s lack of ECS?funding a “severe and persistent inequity.”
In her amendment, any town in the top 25 percent in property values, but in the bottom 50 percent in median income would be available fro the 10 percent deduction. According to Lavielle, this would raise Norwalk’s ECS funding from $10 million to $19 million.
There was some vocal opposition to the amendment from, most scathingly from Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-18, who said it would “artificially reduce the wealth of some communities” who have demonstrated their ability to pay through its net grand list and it “runs directly counter to the dictates of Horton v Meskill” the court case that established ECS?funding.
State?Sen. Toni Nathaniel Harp, D-10, said the amendment raised a good point.
“I do think that Rep. Lavielle … (has) pointed out one of the dichotomies that exists in Connecticut,” Harp said “It really is kind of a difficult conundrum that we’re in as a state.”
Harp said she did not believe that the disparity should be fixed through ECS?formula changes but did feel “we have an obligation to do something about it.”
Lavielle proposed the amendment during discussion of HB 5014, a bill which contains adjustments to the biennial budget during a meeting of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee.