Education Aid Inspired Norwalk Democratic Candidate

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NORWALK, Conn. — The Norwalk Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to letters@dailyvoice.com.

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I will join the united front that delegations from Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport have formed to protest the outdated and unfair Educational Cost Sharing formula that is limiting educational aid to Norwalk's children.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.

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Comments (3)

Congratulations to Kate for even writing something. It is hard to be the perennial placeholder...willing to have your name put on any ballot to suffer a humiliating defeat. I feel bad that she is anchored down by her husband, because of the written rants he submits to the Hour, that she will never get more than the bear bones D votes.

Do you have any idea what you're talking about or do you just post to see your own ridiculous words

The basic unfairness in how the state distributes funding for schools has been a problem for a long time here in Norwalk. The State doesn't make money, the process involves redistribution of money from the wealthy communities to the poorer ones. Unfortunately, geography seems to be the primary criteria and Norwalk is located where the State believes we are part of the very wealthy "Gold Coast". We can't argue the geography, we were, at one time, one of the wealthier communities when we had a lot of manufacturing.

Our circumstances have changed, but it will be an uphill battle getting the formula changed. Imagine how many legislators will vote for any change that results in their districts getting less so that we can get more. The criteria needs to be changed to consider household income of the students instead of property grand lists.

Good luck getting elected and good luck getting that formula changed.