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ERN CT Testimony Before Ed Committee, in support of Special Ed Coop

Testimony Before the Education Committee

Amy Dowell, Connecticut State Director

Education Reform Now Connecticut

March 9, 2020

Re: Support for H.B. No. 5433, An Act Concerning the Creation of a Special Education Excess Cost Cooperative

Chairmen McCrory and Sanchez, Vice-Chairs Abams and Barry, Ranking Members Berthel and McCarty, and Members of the Education Committee, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony in support of H.B. 5433.

It is well established in Connecticut that resource inequities between districts are a major barrier to educational opportunity being fairly offered to all students. Much of that is due to the manner in which state resources are allocated and the impact of disparate property taxes in different towns; but some school funding inequities are also the result of the unpredictability and instability of unusual special education costs.

More specifically, about one percent of the students in our state costs approximately $550 million per year to educate. Although that number is relatively predictable across the state, for an individual district, the sudden need to cover a single student’s Excess Costs to the tune of approximately $150,000 can be both surprising and crippling.

The coop proposed in this bill would essentially pool the financial risks associated with funding the education of students with extraordinary learning needs. It would therefore diminish unpredictability for districts—making their budgets more stable so that they can better meet the needs of their students. In my view, this is an effective solution to an ongoing fiscal problem that has long plagued our districts and towns, and that will ensure appropriate funding for all of the students in our state. I therefore urge you to support HB 5433.


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