A Minor Tweak that Doubles Funding for Some Regional Schools

A minor tweak in Connecticut’s funding formula for school districts will more than double the amount that Lyme-Old Lyme schools receive from the state over the next two years. 

In 2021, Lyme received $60,216 and Old Lyme received $238,583. According to projections from the School and State Finance Project, Old Lyme’s state funding will increase to $370,531 in 2022 and $502,478 in 2023. Lyme’s will increase to $89,603 in 2022 and $118,989 in 2023. 

The increase is a result of a “regional bonus” that gives regional school districts $100 for every student enrolled in a regional school. A previous bonus for regional schools was not calculated on a per-student basis. 

Lyme-Old Lyme Superintendent Ian Neviaser said that the district has 1,311 students enrolled. All of the district’s five schools are considered part of the Region 18 district. 

“Those are funds that go directly to the towns, so it will certainly help the towns in terms of their ability to pay for education services,” said Neviaser. 

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, chair of the appropriations committee, said the regional formula “had not been addressed in years.” Asked by CT Examiner whether the bonus was meant to incentivize regionalization, she said the updated formula was “to support the regionalization we have.” 

Lyme-Old Lyme was originally scheduled to receive less funding over the next two years, part of a reappropriation of state dollars meant to send more money to districts with higher levels of poverty, but legislators decided instead to hold districts harmless for the next two years to offset unexpected costs from the coronavirus.The district will likely see reductions in its funding beginning in 2024. 

The new formula also helped towns like Chester, Deep River and Essex, which have a regional school district that includes the middle school and high school. Over the next two years, Chester will see an increase of $61,873, Deep River will see an increase of $8,587, and Essex will receive $19,782 in additional state dollars. 

Legislators also increased the amount of money appropriated for students whose first language is not English and lowered the threshold at which a district is considered to be in “concentrated poverty.” They also broadened the definition of “regional” to include the state’s endowed academies, such as Norwich Free Academy.

Latest from Emilia Otte