Inside Education: Education cost sharing and excess cost reimbursement grants

During the town and school budget discussions this year, community members heard reference to two state grants related to educational costs.

Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant

The state Legislature has established ECS to distribute approximately $2 billion in state education funding to local public school districts. The formula is based on factors: resident student count, number of low income students, wealth of the city/town to determine how much the town can raise from its property taxes to pay education costs and how much state funding is needed to help offset these costs The grant reimbursement is revenue to the town budget, not the BOE operating budget. In FY19, Ridgefield received $650,296 under this grant (budgeted for $568,700 FY21)

Excess Cost Reimbursement (ECR) Grant

The ECR grant helps towns alleviate the financial burden of providing services to special needs students whose individual services cost over four and half times the cost of educating a typical student. These grants do not fully reimburse school districts for all of the special education costs, and instead cover only a certain reimbursable percentage that fluctuates from year to year. (In Ridgefield, the recent historical average is about 70-77 percent). The grant reimbursement is revenue on the BOE budget and the BOE budgets net of the projected reimbursement amount.

Over the past couple of years, there have been proposals to shift state financial burdens to town budgets and specifically to make changes to both of these state grants in a way that would unfavorably impact Ridgefield. The Ridgefield BOE actively monitors and advocates on behalf of the students and community members of Ridgefield against changes that would adversely impact education and education related funding.