Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday announced the 12 members of a new Education Cost Sharing task force, four of whom have Stamford roots. The committee will review the formula through which state money is distributed to school districts and recommend possible changes.

Task force Chairman Benjamin Barnes, who now serves as secretary of the state Office of Policy and Management was formerly Stamford's director of operations.

Dudley Williams, a former Board of Education member in Stamford, has also served as assistant to the commissioner of the state Department of Education. Williams now works at GE Asset Management, where he is the program director for Stamford's Developing Futures Grant. He is also treasurer of Cos Cob-based Kids in Crisis.

The governor also selected Len Miller, a certified public accountant who previously chaired Stamford Achieves. House Minority Leader Larry Cafero selected state Rep. Michael Molgano, R-144, who serves Stamford and is a member of the House's education committee.

"I think that this is very good for the city," Stamford Board of Education President Polly Rauh said Tuesday. "They're all people that understand the needs here, and the differences among the different types of communities and are level-headed, and will take their time and write recommendations that are appropriate for the whole state, particularly with the understanding of Stamford and the other communities that are similar to us."

The existing Education Cost Sharing formula uses municipalities' taxable property records to assess need for state funds, which Rauh said translates to Stamford "not getting its fair share."

A heavy Stamford presence on the task force could change that.

This year, the city received roughly $500 per student, while other municipalities with similar demographics received up to 10 times as much. This meant Stamford taxpayers had to foot 88 percent of the cost of the district's budget.

"Our annual ECS grant is in the $7 million to $8 million range, and that's out of a pool of nearly $2 billion of money allocated throughout the state," said Stamford's Director of Administration Fred Flynn.

"When you consider the size and diversity of Stamford's population, the way the formula works results in a pretty disproportionately small allocation to the city of Stamford," Flynn said. "So it's really a strategic issue for the city to encourage ways to ensure that the grant formula is more equitable."

Stamford also has a heavy presence in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a nonprofit organization seeking a better way to distribute education funding throughout the state. Rauh and Flynn both noted that Malloy was among the founding members during his time as Stamford's mayor.

"It's really good to see that this is prominent on the Governor's agenda, so I think it's really fortuitous that it's being evaluated, and with this caliber of people he's selected," Flynn said.

Other task force members are Portia Bonner, former superintendent of schools in New Bedford, Mass., Theodore Sergi, former commissioner of the State Department of Education, Elsa Nunez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University, Sen. Andrea Stillman, co-chair of the Senate's education committee, state Sen. Toni Harp, co-chair of the appropriations committee, Mark Benigni, superintendent of schools in Meriden, Mary Loftus-Levine, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, and William Davenport, an agriscience teacher at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury.

Staff writer Maggie Gordon can be reached at or 203-964-2229.