“Equity Delayed Is Equity Denied”–Joe-So Launches Petition Drive Urging Lamont To Unfreeze School Funds

Board of Education member Joe Sokolovic has started a petition calling on education advocates to “please contact the Governor’s office by any means below and tell him to fund the formula. Our children have been waiting for equity long enough!”

Governor Ned Lamont’s education funding plan under fire


On February 10th 2021, the Governor’s budget proposal has proposed both maintaining the 2021 funding level and a delay of the formula phase in. It also will hold districts harmless for COVID related enrollment volatility. While the latter, holding districts harmless, benefits nearly every district and should remain, the delay of implementing the ECS formula harms alliance districts, most of which are majority communities of color.

The ECS, or cost sharing formula, was updated and adopted in 2017 in order to begin to address inequities in the funding of local school districts. Rather than fully fund this march towards equity a ten year timeline was adopted with incremental increases year by year: a timeline which the governor wants to pause and flat fund districts for the next two years; the method which the state uses to compute how much each district receives in funding. It uses a complex formula that calculates aid based on town income, poverty rate, the number of  English Language learners, property wealth of a town, and bonuses for higher needs towns.

In December 2020 the Coronavirus Response and relief Supplemental appropriations act 2021 (CRRSA) was passed and the  second Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSERII) act was  passed. The state of CT received about 443 million dollars in FEDERAL funds to be distributed to Local Education Agencies (LEA’s) to be used for specific reasons related to COVID and its impact on our most vulnerable students. These funds have restricted uses, are not meant to be used to cover operating normal operating expenses, and would not be reimbursable under ESSER funding.

In a normal year, districts count on increased state funding to order to partially pay for escalated costs such as: staff raises; increased fuel costs; increased transportation costs; increased special education costs; and a plethora of other inflationary items. The portion of rising costs that the state does not pick up has to be either made up by the local school district or by cuts to the budget. In all too many cases in our less affluent towns, with the wealth to make up for the shortfall, this is made up by cutting services to our most vulnerable citizens–children. Some districts have reduced staff by over 230 positions in the last five years alone. They were forced to cut many programs and work with old, outdated curriculums as well. Now, the state of Connecticut is refusing to invest one more state tax dollar in our children. In a money saving effort, Lamont wants districts to use FEDERAL money, meant to be used to heal our children academically, socially and emotionally, to be diverted to essentially keeping the  lights on. This leaves millions of dollars less in many districts available for use to help our children recover from the ravages of COVID.

I urge you, my fellow Connecticut residents, that in addition to signing this petition, please contact the Governor’s office by any means below and tell him to fund the formula. Our children have been waiting for equity long enough!

By Mail:
Office of Governor Ned Lamont
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

By phone:
Local (860) 566-4840
Toll Free (800) 406-1526
TDD (860) 524-7397

By Email:


One comment

  1. Thank you, Mr. Grimaldi for posting this.

    Let me break this down a bit more as it can be quite confusing to some.

    The ECS was changed in 2017 to help close the gap and make a down payment on equitably funding poor inner city districts on a par with the wealthier suburbs. Instead of funding everything at once there was to be a 10 year incremental phase in for budgetary reasons. This phase in is to be paused under the Governors budget for two years. Rather than paying for about half of well deserved raises for our hardworking self with ECS funds the Governor proposes that BPS uses Covid relief funds for this purpose. Some may question “What’s the big deal?”. Let me use this years ECS increase as an example: BPS will receive about a $2,300,000 increase in ECS funding for fiscal year 2021. This will help offset the approximately $4,700,000 cost of salary increases for the current budget cycle. The next budget cycle is another story.

    In the Governors 2022/2023 budget cycle freezes the ECS for all districts. This hurts alliance districts the most. Rather than Bridgeport receiving an increase in the ECS of at 2.3 million dollars each of the two years ($115 per student), the Governor’s proposal is to give a $0 per student increase to the ECS. Instead the governor is counting on FEDERAL COVID relief funds about 40 million over two years or $2000 per student ($1,000 per year). These relief funds are meant to help our children and staff recover from the academic, social/emotional and psychological ravages of COVID and used for measures to make in person education as safe as can be.

    What can this potential lost $2,300,000 buy?

    At roughly $100 an hour for counseling our children could instead receive 23,000 hours per year of counseling to deal with any trauma issues resulting from COVID. Our children have lost peer support for about a year now and may have: suffered the loss of a loved one; been incredibly frightened of catching COVID; lost important socialization skills; missed out on milestones (in person kindergarten, in person transition to HS, etc).

    Covid has also cost our children academically and students may have lost learning at differing levels and may not all be on the same track. Tutoring can help alleviate that. At $50 per hour about 46,000 hours of tutoring.

    These are just two examples of what could be lost if FEDERAL funds are allowed to replace the increase in ECS funds alliance districts are depending on to cover operating costs. So I ask all on OIB to sign and share this petition far and wide. Also testify at the state appropriations hearings on March 1. Equity delayed, is equity denied.


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