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Norwalk lawmakers disagree on likely ECS verdict

Bob Duff Jan. 22 2013 019
State Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) spoke to Norwalk District A Democrats last week.

NORWALK, Conn. – State Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) predicts a positive decision regarding Norwalk from the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) task force, which is expected to be release its report soon – but there’s a catch.

“It’s going to be advantageous for Norwalk, but the issue now is trying to find the resources,” Duff said. “In a difficult budget year, we have another deficit.”

The task force was formed in August 2011 to review the ECS formula’s effectiveness and make recommendations for change. Local leaders say the formula is unfair to Norwalk, where a high percentage of students are on the free- or reduced-lunch program, and have campaigned for a modification.

“We passed that legislation to create that task force a couple years ago because of the fact we knew Norwalk should get more money,” Duff said. “We have a governor who understood and cared, and supported us on that. We appreciated that because we’ve had governors in the past who say one thing but didn’t back us up when we talked about that issue.”

State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton) is among those who have been fighting to change the formula.

“Norwalk’s allocation remains too heavily based on its grand list, and I continue to feel strongly that the current formula grossly overestimates Norwalk’s ‘ability to pay’ for education,” she said in an email.

She’s not as optimistic as Duff about the task force’s findings

“I don’t think it’s possible to say what we expect in terms of an outcome for Norwalk,” she said. “The report, according to an announcement made to the press by one of the ECS task force chairs, was supposed to have been made public during the first week of January. That still has not happened, so I don’t know what it says regarding Norwalk.

“I am reluctant to say that there will be additional funds,” she said, “because we are already facing a $2.2 billion deficit for the next biennial budget, and, because revenues for the current year continue to fall short of projections every day, that deficit may well be understated.”

Lavielle has introduced HB 5281, which she said is similar to the amendment to the state budget bill she introduced last year. The bill amends the definition of equalized net grand list for purposes of calculating the education cost sharing grant.

Common Councilman Matt Miklave (D-District A) pressured Duff last week on the issue, saying a decision needs to be made and the details worked out later as the council must set Norwalk’s preliminary budget cap by Feb. 28.

“The later the budget cycle goes the more difficult it is for us to make any final decisions on the final budget,” he said. “To the extent that there’s going to be massive amounts of pain – I totally expect there will be – you guys just need to do it early. You need to set it and, if you could resource some stuff later on, that’s fine.”

Comments

12 responses to “Norwalk lawmakers disagree on likely ECS verdict”

  1. David Watts

    GOT ECS?

    ECS Aid Comparison with Selected Wealthier Communities
    ECS Aid per Student Median Household Income
    Norwalk $ 930 $71.877
    Cheshire $1,880 $101,392
    Milford $1505 $74.940
    Southington $2,919 $73,453
    West Hartford $1579 $76,835

  2. BARIN

    How does this happen? What about Bridgeport, New Haven and Stamford?

  3. David Watts

    BARIN,

    Look at Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and Norwalk’s ECS Grant.

    Town Fiscal Year 2012 Grant for Fiscal Year 2013

    Bridgeport (2012) 164,195,344; (2013) 164,195,344

    New Haven (2012)142,509,525; (2013) 142,509,525

    Hartford (2012)187,974,890; (2013) 187,974,890

    Norwalk (2012)10,095,131; (2013) 10,095,131

    source

    http://www.cga.ct.gov/2012/rpt/2012-R-0101.htm

  4. David Watts

    Nancy can you space it out for me. You need an edit button. lol

    1. I tried! I think it’s better.

  5. BARIN

    Wow, thank you, David.

  6. Bryan Meek

    Per capita income is just part of the equation.

    A lot is driven by real estate values. Our proximity to NYC is what kills Norwalk when it comes to ECS.

    Effectively, Norwalk is paying Bridgeport’s property taxes without any accountability for the complete disaster that is Bridgeport’s education system.

  7. David Watts

    BARIN,

    You are welcome. It is time to have a conversation about this.

  8. BARIN

    @Dave and Bryan, thank you.
    Is there any good news? A conversation is certainly in order.

  9. LWitherspoon

    @David Watts
    I agree, it is well past time to have a conversation about this. If you’ll recall, Jack Chiaramonte made Norwalk’s lack of ECS funding the theme of his campaign for state representative. I am hopeful this made Senator Duff take notice and that we will finally see some results.

    I hope you can involve yourself in the conversation productively, without grandstanding, bloviating, or recorded speeches that feature fake applause.

  10. BARIN

    Spoon, you little instigator with that last line. Dont take the bait Dave. Would this be an issue the council can have a conversation about, or is that forbidden too. Hope it doesnt take another resolution to start the conversation.

  11. David Watts

    I don’t know if the council will address this issue. However, I am willing to sit down and talk about it.

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