Education Bills Moving Forward

April 1, 2015

Hartford, CT – State Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme) is supporting a bill (House Bill 7019) that would make changes to the minimum budget requirement (MBR) that school districts have to spend each year. A change in the law would help municipalities better manage their education budgets, especially districts dealing with declining enrollment.

“School districts need flexibility and efficient service delivery. The MBR’s impact is particularly unfortunate especially when a district has to spend more money based on an arbitrary number of students – in some cases fewer amounts of students are enrolled in school,” said Sen. Paul Formica.

Specifically, it would:

  • eliminate the current language that limits the amount per student that districts can reduce their budget from $3,000 to a formula that is 50% of the net current expenditures per resident student
  • Eliminate the cap of one half of one percent that a district can reduce its budget. This legislation proposes allowing a reduction of 3% and going to SDE for approval for a higher amount
  • exempt the top ten performing districts from having to comply with MBR

Towns across the state are facing significant declines in student enrollment, and that is projected to continue for at least the next ten years.

Many districts are essentially handcuffed by MBR in its current form. Even despite the clear and growing need for potential reductions in our education budgets, local leaders are not able to exercise the prudent financial management and discretion of spending taxpayer dollars that residents demand and deserve.

Some have suggested the bill Include language that requires concurrence between the local board of education and the board of finance or town council to reduce appropriations beyond the limits of the existing statute.

Senator Formica agrees the state’s interest in funding stability has a better chance of working when local education trustees and local fiscal trustees agree that local circumstances warrant reduced appropriations.

The bill passed the Education Committee and now heads to appropriations committee.