OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 404

AN ACT CONCERNING THE MINIMUM BUDGET REQUIREMENT, THE CARRY-OVER OF EDUCATION COST SHARING ACCOUNTABILITY FUNDS AND THE REPEAL OF AN OBSOLETE PUBLIC ACT SECTION.

SUMMARY:

This bill:

1. raises the minimum proportion of any annual increase in its Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant that a town must allocate to education spending in order to meet its minimum budget requirement (MBR);

2. establishes a special MBR for certain regional school district towns with falling enrollment;

3. carries forward to FY 09 any unspent FY 08 ECS funds transferred to the State Department of Education (SDE) to implement education improvement measures for a district in the third year or more of failing to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) in math or reading; and

4. repeals an obsolete requirement that SDE, by October 1, 2007, notify each local school board to anticipate its ECS student count will be reduced in FY 10 by 50% of the number of its full-time students who attend interdistrict magnet schools receiving state magnet operating grants.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008, except for the carry-forward provision, which is effective on passage.

MINIMUM BUDGET REQUIREMENT

All Towns

Current law requires each town to spend for education at least its budgeted appropriation for the prior year plus from 15% to 65% of any ECS grant increase it receives. The bill generally increases this MBR percentage range to 50% to 80%, thus requiring all towns to allocate at least half of any annual ECS grant increase to increased education spending.

As under current law, each town's exact MBR within the range is determined by the average of the relationships between it and the state's highest-ranked town in the following categories: (1) current program expenditures per student, (2) per capita wealth (equalized net grand list adjusted for income), and (3) percentage of students who score below proficiency on state mastery tests. The bigger the average of the differences in these categories between a particular town and the highest-ranked town, the more of its ECS increase the town must devote to its education budget (i. e. , the closer to 80%).

School Districts in Need of Improvement

Under current law, a town whose school district is in the third year or more of failing, as a district, to make AYP in math or reading must add 20 percentage points to the share of its ECS increase that it must spend on education. The bill eliminates the permanent requirement that such districts spend this extra amount and instead applies it only to FY 09.

In addition, in FY 09, the bill requires such a town to spend at least its new MBR percentage plus 20 percentage points, or 80% of its increase, whichever is greater. Thus, for FY 09 only, the bill requires districts in need of improvement to spend from 80% to 100% of any ECS increase on education, instead of the 35% to 85% required by current law.

Regional School Districts

For FYs 08 and 09, the bill establishes a special MBR for any town that (1) is a member of a grade 7-12 or 9-12 regional school district and (2) compared to the previous fiscal year, has a reduced assessment, excluding debt service, for students enrolled in the regional district (i. e. , where the number of students from the town who attend school in the regional district has dropped).

The bill allows such a district to meet the MBR by appropriating the legal minimum percentage of its ECS increase (15% under current law for FY 08 and 50% under the bill for FY 09) for education.

ECS FUNDS TRANSFERRED TO SDE FOR EDUCATIONAL IMPROVEMENT

As noted above, any town whose school district is in the third year or more of failing, as a district, to make AYP in math or reading, must add 20 percentage points to the share of its ECS increase that it must spend on education pursuant to the MBR. By law, the comptroller must withhold these funds and transfer them to SDE. The education commissioner must spend the money on the school district's behalf to implement any of the educational improvement measures that the State Board of Education requires and to offset any other local education costs that the education commissioner deems appropriate to achieve school improvement. The commissioner must award the funds to the board of education for the identified school district on the condition that it spends the funds in accordance with the commissioner's directives.

Instead of lapsing, the bill requires any funds transferred to SDE under this provision that remain unspent on June 30, 2008 to carry forward to, and remain available for spending in, FY 09 for the same purpose.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference

Yea

29

Nay

1

(03/17/2008)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

52

Nay

0

(03/28/2008)