Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 21, 2008

Connecting the dots

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 10:32 pm

Anchorrising has posted more information on the dreaded “funding formula.”  For those who haven’t followed this, it’s a proposal to create a formula to determine the cost of educating each child in RI and allocate the money though one source.  Here is the cliff note version. 


A regular school student would be 1 times $X,XXX.  A student with an Individualized Education Plan would be 1.25 times $X,XXX – or some multiplier to be determined.  A student such as those in the RYSE program would be 2.5 times $X,XXX.  You get the idea. 


All property taxes for the entire state would be collected by the state and distributed to each town.  Hopkinton would tell the state “we have 900 regular students, 200 students with IEP’s, 20 RYSE students.”  And the state would distribute that formulated amount to the school.


Here’s the problem.  The state will tally up the costs for all 120,000 students and distribute that cost based on property values.   As you can imagine, all the core cities (providence, central fall, Woonsocket) don’t have nearly enough property to support their own children and the next largest two (warwick and Cranston) probably don’t either.  That means the outside communities, especially the wealthy ones like Charlestown, East Greenwich and Barrington, will shoulder most of the burden. 


The formula is touted as solving the funding shortfalls, but that can only come with more money (because changing the contracts isn’t in the plan).  So where does that money come from?   


Besides, it will be difficult to convince someone in Hopkinton that someone in Providence can control their school $’s.


The probable solution is to collect the money but then send it back to the parent.  That way if a parent wants to spend more for moses brown, they can.  If they use one of the normal private schools, the state saves money – which would need to go back to the town (this is the important part).  The funds need to be fluid with the parent’s decision.   That way a parent cant complain about the state spending their school  $’s improperly because the parent has the control. 


I’ve mentioned the Edmonton school choice model before.  There are 80,000 students in that district – all schools are public and in the system.  This is the model I would look to on a statewide level.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done on a town level in the mean time, thus establishing the rules you want to live by.


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