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House Democrats’ proposed budget takes a more restrained approach than the governor’s to dramatically redistribute state education aid to struggling school districts. Both plans essentially flat-fund overall aid for education, but cut other state aid to cities and towns by $120 million this fiscal year.

The Democrats’ education spending plan would shift $9.8 million out of a $2 billion Education Cost Sharing (ECS) program to the 30 lowest performing school systems, referred to as Alliance Districts. That shift of less than one percent of the grant means two-thirds of the total grant would continue to go to those struggling districts.

Malloy’s proposed budget would direct 78 percent of state education aid to those districts. Malloy recommended eliminating education aid entirely for 30 well-off communities and recommended cuts to several other middle-income communities in order to redistribute much more money to the 30 impoverished districts.

The House Democratic plan has 25 communities losing all ECS aid, and another 25 school districts losing anywhere from 2 to 88 percent of their ECS funding. Among the Alliance Districts, Waterbury and Hartford are the biggest winners in the House Democrats’ plan, each standing to gain about $1.3 million, a one percent increase.

Malloy’s plan would have funneled $48 million more to Waterbury, and $29 million more to Hartford for education. There may be a big caveat for that aid, however: For communities that would see ECS increases, the administration has not decided whether to require it be spent entirely on education or if it could help offset the cuts in other state grants.

Here’s a town-by-town breakdown of education aid in the Democrats’ plan. (And here is a town run for Malloy’s budget)

For the other municipal grants towns receive from the state, House Democrats cut spending by $120 million. The communities deemed Alliance districts are cut $49.8 million – an 18 percent reduction – and all the remaining districts would be hit for $68.3 million – a 55 percent loss.

The Democrats did not release a breakout of the other grants cities and towns have historically received, instead they provided just overall funding levels their budget would provide each municipality. Their proposal would combine the various municipal grants that towns have grown accustomed to receiving and use a new methodology to determine how much each town receives.

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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