Under one interpretation of a proposed reworking of the state's Education Cost Sharing Grant, state aid to Ellington and Somers schools could increase, according to a report from the Governor's ECS Formula Committee.
The committee's recommendations are still in the early stages, and the General Assembly has not yet adopted them. However, the committee's projections for potential state aid increases Ellington and Somers' share in ECS funds from the current levels.
The report gives two scenarios and in both, each town will receive more funding. Ellington could receive around $2.7 million and Somers would receive over $305,000 and $343,000 (depending on the scenario).
With the state of the economy as it is, neither Ellington Superintendent of Schools Stephen Cullinan nor Somers Superintendent of Schools Maynard Suffredini are confident that the money will actually come their way.
"We are all holding our breath because the governor said ECS would be cut by 5 percent for next year," Suffredini said. "This clearly is not aligned with his estimates. I hope it ends up this way but I am checking this out further. We are all in a holding pattern right now."
"If somebody turns around and implements this formula and Ellington gets that extra money, it's superb and it's well needed," Cullinan said. "But I'm not holding my breath expecting it. I'm holding my breath, but I'm holding my breath so that we don't get cut."
In the committee's report, it is recommended that the minimum aid given to wealthier towns be lowered from 9 percent to 2 percent. The formula tweaking aims to provide equal education opportunities and to close the achievement gap. The committee also states that it wants to create a more predictable formula so schools have a certainty in what level of funding they will receive each year.
It is also proposed that the state give more weight to median household income of towns and to use American Community Survey data to calculate fairer funding levels; 10-year-old U.S. census data has been the main information source for ECS grants. Property values and income would also be weighed more equally.