NORWALK, Conn. The Norwalk Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
To the Editor,
Getting more state funding for Norwalk schoolchildren is one of the main reasons I am running for state representative in the 142nd District. When I get to Hartford, I will join the united front that delegations from Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport have formed to protest the outdated and unfair Educational Cost Sharing formula that is limiting educational aid to Norwalk's children.
This year alone, ECS is distributing $1.89 billion in ECS aid (45.3 percent of all state education expenditures).
The ECS formula is intended to equalize state education funding by taking into account a town's wealth and ability to raise property taxes to pay for education. Poor towns receive more aid per student; affluent towns receive less aid per student.
Norwalk, a city of 85,000 that has a relatively high median income and tax base, gets less aid than Plainville, a town of only 17,000! The needs of an urban school system such as Norwalk's far outstrip those of a town such as Plainville, but a faulty ECS formula dictates that the state must give more money to Plainville.
This disparity is a direct result of the adjustment made for wealth and clearly needs to be fixed. Here is why:
Norwalk has been rated as the 68th highest income city among those with populations of more than 50,000 in the United States. However, its household income is badly skewed; certain neighborhoods in Norwalk average twice as much income as that in other parts of the city. As proof of this disparity, Stamford-Norwalk together are ranked as having the greatest growth of household income inequality in the entire United States!
Such income inequality undermines Norwalk and Fairfield County in many ways, but nowhere is it more telling than its effect on the amount of state aid it receives for schools. Just because Norwalk has a few affluent neighborhoods should not mean that children from the more populous middle-class and poor neighborhoods with significant numbers of low-English-proficiency students should be penalized.
The wealth-adjustment assumption may have been well-intended, but experience tells us that it is also ill-conceived.
The objective of equitable funding for all Connecticut students has not been met. I will fight to eliminate the wealth factor from the ECS formula and make state aid serve individual student need, as originally intended.