Under one interpretation of a proposed reworking of the state's Education Cost Sharing Grant, state aid to Tolland schools could plummet more than $1 million, according to a report from the Governor's ECS Formula Committee.
The committee's recommendations are still in the early stages, and the General Assembly has not yet adopted them. However, the committee's projections for potential state aid reduces Tolland's share in ECS funds from its current level of $10,866,063 to $9,760,845, a decrease of $1,105,218.
"If the town couldn't pick up the difference in funding, cuts to programs and personnel are a likely impact," Superintendent William Guzman said.
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Guzman commented that beyond decreasing ECS grants, an increase in unfunded mandates is placing more of a financial burden on municipalities. Mandates such as new teacher evaluations, which the state may consider revenue neutral, actually cost the school district, Guzman explained. For example, Tolland already had to add a position to implement the complex evalution process and will likely need to purchase new software to simply fulfill the mandate.
"The state has reneged on its promise to fund schools at the 50/50 level," Guzman said. "They haven't even come near that."
In the committee's report, it is recommended that the minimum aid given to wealthier towns be lowered from 9 percent to 2 percent. The formula tweaking aims to provide equal education opportunities and to close the achievement gap. The committee also states that it wants to create a more predictable formula so schools have a certainty in what level of funding they will receive each year.
It is also proposed that the state give more weight to median household income of towns and to use American Community Survey data to calculate fairer funding levels; 10-year-old U.S. census data has been the main information source for ECS grants. Property values and income would also be weighed more equally.
Tolland's proposed 2013-2014 school budget can be seen on the school district website.