New Education Funding Formula Contributes to Increases in State Aid

Dan McGowan at GoLocalProv has a story on how Governor Chafee’s budget sends more money to the cities and towns.

A GoLocalProv review of the Governor’s budget plan shows Barrington, East Greenwich, Lincoln, Cranston, Scituate and North Providence will all receive at least 16 percent bumps in aid, with Barrington and East Greenwich – two of the wealthiest communities in the state – getting 38.2 percent and 36 percent increases, respectively.
In total, 15 communities will receive at least ten percent increases and Providence, which receives by far the most state aid of any city or town, will get a 9.5 percent increase in aid.

As Dan notes, the increase is “mostly in education aid”. That is because the state passed a new funding formula bill (PDF) last year and, based on the calculations, communities such as Barrington and East Greenwich are seeing an increase because they had been getting less money on a per pupil basis than other cities under the old, hodge-podge,/who-you-know-in-the-legislature system. The percentage increase looks big for the “rich” towns like Barrington and East Greenwich, but they are less in real dollars when compared to the nearly 19% increase for Cranston, for instance.
Additionally, GoLocal didn’t include school aid for a couple cases where communities share a school district–Exeter/West Greenwich and Bristol/Warren. With the exception of Portsmouth, these four communities are the only ones experiencing an overall decrease in aid. Based on the new funding formula, these towns will be receiving less education aid, which makes their reduction in state aid even more than that indicated by GoLocalProv.
In years past, the perception in the Legislature (and, probably, in the general population) has been that Barrington and EG didn’t “need” more aid. Conversely, the old system failed to account for population and demographic changes that have occurred in some communities–Bristol and Warren, for example–by continuing to send the same or a little more money every year while, for instance in the case of Bristol/Warren, the student population continues to go down. Well, a comprehensive funding formula takes out such “gut feel” factors. We’ll see how this plays out: To some, the new funding formula may not be “fair”, but it is equitable.

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