Kupchick, Devlin and Hwang work to reduce education funding mandate

Key legislation which increases flexibility for towns to reduce their minimum budget requirement (MBR), due to a drop in student enrollment was supported by State Reps. Brenda Kupchick (R-132), Laura Devlin (R-134) and state Senator Tony Hwang (R-28).

The bill HB- 7019, An Act Concerning the Minimum Budget Requirement, minimum spending requirements for local education would be relaxed to allow towns to better reflect declining enrollment in their budgeting. Top performing school districts would be granted the most flexibility, with Alliance District schools exempt from the provisions in the legislation.

Rep. Devlin said, “It is a common sense proposal! We are just asking for a reduction in education funding to reflect savings associated with declining student enrollment.”

Rep. Kupchick said, “Providing our towns with additional flexibility under the state’s MBR mandate will help ease the pressure on rising in local property taxes. Having served on Fairfield’s Board of Education I saw first-hand how unfunded mandates can wreak havoc with education budgets”.

“With towns across the state facing significant declines in student enrollment for at least the next 10 to 15 years, this bill provides our education boards and municipal leaders with much-needed flexibility to work together in a collaborative manner to align resources and needs in a fiscally responsible manner without sacrificing the educational excellence we all strive for and value,” said state Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28). “I’d like to thank my colleagues in the House for voting in support of this bill. I look forward to doing the same when it comes before the Senate.”

Currently, the State of Connecticut has Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) rules which prevent municipalities from dropping education funding below specified amounts. Spending reductions by Boards of Education (BOE) are currently limited to .5% per year.

The bill would increase the allowable spending reductions by BOE to 1.5% or 3% for declining enrollment, based on the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch. In addition, a local BOE can apply for approval of further cuts from the state Department of Education. The top 10% performing school districts do not have a spending reduction cap and do not need an SDE signoff.

The legislature enacted the Minimum Budget Requirement MBR ten years ago to ensure that education cost sharing (ECS) funding for each of the 169 towns was being spent on education. Since then, school enrollment has declined in many districts and the result has been a number of school districts struggling under MBR due to declining enrollment.

State Reps. Laura Devlin (R-134) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132) .

State Reps. Laura Devlin (R-134) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132) .

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