June 10, 2007

Worse than Flat-Funding?

Carroll Andrew Morse

I'm not 100% sure what to make of this just yet, but according to the specific numbers in the House budget plan (H5300, Article 21, substitute A), many Rhode Island communities will get less education aid, in terms of absolute dollars, than they did last year. Here are exact numbers from the text of the bill…

Community Education Aid
FY 2007
Education Aid
FY 2008 (prop.)
Change From
2007 to 2008
Barrington $2,599,526 $2,599,526 $0
Bristol-Warren $20,498,190 $20,228,190 -$270,000
Burrillville $13,779,743 $13,539,743 -$240,000
Charlestown $2,002,838 $2,002,838 $0
Central Falls $43,313,036 $43,313,036 $0
Chariho $398,334 $398,334 $0
Coventry $20,075,081 $19,955,081 -$120,000
Cranston $35,580,911 $35,460,911 -$120,000
Cumberland $13,257,009 $13,257,009 $0
East Greenwich $1,949,761 $1,844,761 -$105,000
East Providence $26,762,254 $26,132,254 -$630,000
Exeter-West Greenwich $7,661,019 $7,256,019 -$405,000
Foster $1,416,463 $1,416,463 $0
Foster-Glocester $5,729,861 $5,729,861 $0
Glocester $3,213,847 $3,213,847 $0
Hopkinton $6,241,352 $6,241,352 $0
Jamestown $531,908 $531,908 $0
Johnston $10,915,364 $10,615,364 -$300,000
Lincoln $7,403,268 $7,283,268 -$120,000
Little Compton $368,810 $368,810 $0
Middletown $10,497,116 $10,077,116 -$420,000
Narragansett $1,897,159 $1,897,159 $0
Newport $11,796,080 $11,316,080 -$480,000
New Shoreham $106,345 $106,345 $0
North Kingstown $11,986,005 $11,986,005 $0
North Providence $13,232,872 $13,142,872 -$90,000
North Smithfield $4,834,237 $4,714,237 -$120,000
Pawtucket $66,858,559 $66,003,559 -$855,000
Portsmouth $6,250,042 $6,130,042 -$120,000
Providence $193,974,756 $190,824,756 -$3,150,000
Richmond $6,188,615 $6,188,615 $0
Scituate $3,407,183 $3,407,183 $0
Smithfield $5,668,568 $5,428,568 -$240,000
South Kingstown $10,428,698 $10,173,698 -$255,000
Tiverton $5,932,058 $5,932,058 $0
Warwick $37,626,000 $37,266,000 -$360,000
Westerly $6,843,077 $6,843,077 $0
West Warwick $20,440,547 $20,440,547 $0
Woonsocket $47,616,613 $47,016,613 -$600,000
In Governor Carcieri’s original proposal, the FY2008 aid number was 3% greater than the FY2007 number for every community except for Central Falls (which got an 8.25% increase), so if there’s an appropriation elsewhere in the budget that offsets these losses, it’s something that wasn’t in the Governor’s proposal, and something that the legislature hasn’t provided any clear details to the public on.

Anybody have any idea what’s happening here?

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No, but great catch, Andrew. Maybe flat funding is a new euphemism for reduction.

Posted by: SusanD at June 10, 2007 1:28 PM

It seems that adding back education related group home aid, calculated on a per bed basis and previously aggregated in state aid to education figures, will likely bring the figures back to even.

Posted by: Hmmmmm at June 10, 2007 2:35 PM


I think you may be half-right. I think the changes do relate to the group-home provisions of education aid.

However, I'm not sure that these cuts are compensated for elsewhere in the budget. I think these numbers reflect true cuts, e.g. East Providence will have $630,000 less in state aid to fund the total package of education and group home programs they funded last year. If I've misinterpreting this, I welcome someone pointing out the relevant section of the budget legislation to me.

(The changes in Article 21 of H5300A involving group-home funding seem to relate mostly to determining how mid-year changes in the number of group-home beds in a community will be assessed.)

And I'm starting to see the possibility of a cynical dimension to this too. Is the legislature getting retting ready to tell people, see, if we had a “funding formula”, we couldn’t have made those cuts in group-home aid, because your education aid would have been a legally mandated entitlement?

Posted by: Andrew at June 10, 2007 4:38 PM

You found the relevant section. As you noted, if you go to the Sub A of Budget Article 21, start reading from the revisions starting about the middle of page 14 - note that in addition to allowing for mid-year adjustments, full funding for group home education costs is specified. Then, check the Dept of Ed's website for the allocations made last year, and you will see that the amounts for group homes were backed out of the revised education aid figures.

I am cynical on the opposite side of the formula issue - there will be no funding formula without funding, because of the potential litigation that could follow an unfunded formula.

Posted by: Hmmmmm at June 10, 2007 8:46 PM

This is interesting. So local aid to group homes was always under the category of education aid? But this year, they backed it out of the education category? Was there some nefarious (or other) reason they did this?

Posted by: SusanD at June 10, 2007 9:07 PM

This is going to run on a bit, but I want to be specific about the changes we're discussing.

Here's the new text added to section 16-64-1.1 of Rhode Island law by H5300A, Article 21.

To section (b)(1), a notification requirement with no change in funding...

DCYF shall also notify the department of elementary and secondary education of actual increases or decreases in group home beds by city or town as they occur 15 between July 1 and June 30 of each fiscal year.
To section (b)(3), a specific expenditure mandate, with no funding mechanism...
Notwithstanding the provisions of this section or any law to the contrary, the education aid for all group home or other residential facility "beds" located or associated with Bradley Hospital shall be twenty-two thousand dollars ($22,000) per "bed".
A brand new section (b)(4) that spells out rules for dealing with the funding ramifications when the number of beds in a community changes in mid-year...
(4) In any fiscal year, the education aid received pursuant to section (3) shall be increased or decreased for that fiscal year to account for additional beds certifie d by DCYF as licensed or for decreases in beds certified by DCYF as licensed. Such increases and decreases shall only result in increases and decreases in aid if certification by DCYF is received prior to December 31 of the current fiscal year. The amount of the increase or decrease shall be the per pupil rate for beds pursuant to section (3). Any increase in education aid shall be funded under the supplemental budget and paid to the city, town or regional school district upon passage of the supplemental budget. Any decrease in education aid shall be deducted from the total education aid entitlement for the district for the subsequent fiscal year. Pursuant to this section, any increase in group home beds occurring between January 1 and June 30 of a given fiscal year shall result in an increase in aid for the subsequent fiscal year to be paid as a supplemental appropriation for the subsequent fiscal year. Because of this, increases in beds occurring between January 1 and June 30 may be used in the calculation of aid pursuant to section (3) and funded as part of the enacted budget for the subsequent fiscal year at the discretion of the General Assembly. Decreases in beds occurring between January 1 and June 30 shall not result in a decrease in aid for that year, but shall be applied to the number of beds used to calculate aid for the subsequent fiscal year pursuant to section (3).
That's everything new.

All of the provisions about the state giving aid to communities based on the existing number of group home beds is already written into law, specifically, section (b)(3)...

(3) Each city or town shall receive state education aid in an amount equal to the number of group home or other residential facility "beds" in that community multiplied by a per pupil rate, subject to appropriation, intended to reflect the average cost per pupil based on the blend of regular education and special education students in group homes as derived from figures supplied on June 30 of the reference year as defined in section 16-7-16(11). Each city or town shall receive an additional per pupil rate for beds certified by DCYF as licensed between July 1 and December 31 of each year.
But (except for the Bradley hospital provision) the above clause is not being changed this year, at least by Article 21, to offset the cuts being made in general education aid.

Unless there's an offset in another article, it looks to me as if the legislature is robbing Peter (general education aid) to pay Paul (group home funding), resulting in a true funding cut for the towns involved.

Again, I welcome corrections to any misinterpretation I may be making here.

Posted by: Andrew at June 11, 2007 12:52 AM
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