Re-Run in Warwick
Budget time in Warwick, which means the head-butting between the Mayor/City Council and Warwick Schools is essentially the same as last year and will probably have the same results. Without re-hashing the same arguments, here’s the quick version.
The schools and city disagree on the baseline number for maintaining the level of effort for school funding. (The “moe” is required by law and the situation is exacerbated by differing opinions from the Education Commissioner and the leaders of the General Assembly, each telling the respective sides what they want to hear…the city solicitor is looking into it). The Warwick Beacon provided a nice graphic to illustrate the difference:
Also still relevant to the conversation is last year’s analysis from the Warwick Tea Party, which shows that the City side of the budget has seen the majority of growth–and new tax dollars–over the last few years. Here is an updated chart produced by former School Committee/City Council member Bob Cushman illustrating the budgeting trends in Warwick.
The city flat-funded the schools in 2008 and 2009, then after a stimulus bump in 2010, funded at 95% in 2011. They have again proposed to flat-fund schools this year (based on the “new” moe). Overall, the school budget has increased 20.6% since 2004 and has actually decreased since 2008 (albeit with a one-time stimulus bump). The city side of the budget has increased 49.8% since 2004. The school-side of the budget reached its peak as far as a percentage of the overall budget at 63.89% in 2007. Now it stands at 55% of the total budget, which is a trend that some favor, no doubt. However, as the Warwick Tea Party points out, the fact is that the overall budget continues to grow with new property tax “revenue” generated over the last few years going to fund increases in the city side of the budget, not the schools.
UPDATE: Bob Cushman passed along an updated analysis for this year. You can download the file here (MS Word).