Different Paths to the Same Ratio

I’m not entirely sure why the notion of more state money must be tied with the development of a school funding formula in this state, but this paragraph caught my eye:

Currently, 60 percent of Rhode Island’s school costs are paid for by local property taxes, compared to the national average of 43 percent. Some groups have advocated for a state-local share of 50-50, phased in over several years.

According to most notions of a funding formula that I’ve heard, some districts would see this ratio go up, while others would see it go down. Be that as it may, it seems to me that the easiest way to match the national education funding ratio would be to begin cutting local spending. A 28% reduction in property-tax-based education spending, and we’re right in line with the national average with no state-level action necessary.

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12 years ago

More disturbing is today’s article on the same subject. Despite the title, “Board of Regents focuses on tying state aid to how schools spend the money.” the article includes this!
“The Regents agreed to remove one of the most controversial elements of the proposal — providing “incentives and disincentives” to districts who reduce costs through changes to teacher union contracts.”
These goofballs don’t even recognize their responsibility to impose an affordability standard to locally negotiated contracts.
Can we really trust that local school committees can bring contract costs back to a reasonable standard? More importantly, can we trust the superintendents they hire, mostly drawn from the union system, Who enjoy the spoils offered in their contract designed to mimic the gold standard of the union contracts, to advocate for anything but the continuation of the same old contract benefits that we can’t afford?
If the regents won’t step in to force correction, we are doomed to the same old, same old.
If you want to see how poorly a superintendent can react in a time of need, just read the companion articles in the Valley Breeze concerning contract status Lincoln as discussed by Town Administrator Almond and Superintendent Fortunato. It is depressing.

12 years ago

Correction…it’s only a single article in the Valley Breeze.

12 years ago

There is a version of a “funding formula” plan that isn’t accompanied by an increase in the local to state tax ratio, where the state also implements a big sales tax and/or income tax increase at the same time it implements the “funding formula”. But even in this case, your fundamental premise is still correct: It’s not the formula that changes the local-to-state tax ratio, it’s the fact that state taxes are increased.
For the taxpayer who is paying more state-plus-local tax than before but still receiving the same level of education services back in his or her community, this plan is no different than raising that person’s property tax, and sending all of the new revenue to a different community. However, by coupling a “funding formula” to income and sales taxes, it becomes much harder to follow which communities are paying more to the state than their schools get back, and which are receiving big subsidies financed with taxes collected from taxpayers in other communities. I took a stab at explaining the problem back here.
Of course, when you discuss the idea of the impact on individual citizens being of fundamental concern, you generally get either blank stares or angry shouts from “funding formula” advocates — don’t you realize the primarily role of government is to sustain urban bureaucracies and give them whatever it is they say they need, no matter the cost to everyone else?

12 years ago

Does this mean Providence’s cut of state aid gets reduced?

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