Proposed ECS increase equals more funds for local schools

Gov. Dannel Malloy has proposed a $50 million increase in Education Cost Sharing (ECS). The increase would mean more education funds for Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, and Prospect in the 2012-13 fiscal year. –RA ARCHIVE

Naugatuck and Region 16 could see the number of dollars they receive from state coffers rise next year if Gov. Dannel Malloy gets his wish.

Malloy recently announced a proposal for a $50 million increase in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) across the state, with most of that money going to underperforming districts.

Under Malloy’s plan, Naugatuck would see a $635,000 increase or 2.17 percent; Beacon Falls would see an additional $64,000 or 1.59 percent and Prospect would bump up $58,000 or 1.1 percent.

The announcement was welcomed by districts which have seen their ECS funding flat-lined for the past two years.

“I think anything we can do to improve public education in our schools with the national economy having been what is has been the past several years is certainly welcome news,” said interim Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Tim James.

Naugatuck is considered an “Alliance District,” Malloy’s name for the state’s 30 lowest-performing districts. Region 16 does not fall under that category. According to a press release from the governor’s office, the extra funding for “Alliance District” would be conditioned upon the district’s implementation of key education reform strategies.

“It is critical that we get to the schools that are really struggling — and do it quickly,” Malloy said in the press release.

According to the press release, Naugatuck will have to submit a reform plan which the state Department of Education would have to approve before the district can receive the funds.

Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson said he has not yet been notified of Naugatuck’s status as an Alliance District, but that Naugatuck is ready to meet the conditions of the program.

Tindall-Gibson said the state consulted superintendents when drafting reforms and Naugatuck is already working on some of those initiatives required under Malloy’s proposal.

Tindall-Gibson said the extra funds aren’t enough to allow the district to expand any programs or initiate new ones, and the district is bracing to lose $1.2 million in federal stimulus funds that it’s enjoyed for the past two years.

“The increase in funding is not enough to offset the increase in inflationary costs and contractual increases, but it’s a help,” he said.

Malloy’s proposal will eventually be included in his budget for the next fiscal year, which the state legislature will debate in the coming months.