February 27, 2010

Funding Formulas

Marc Comtois

A new funding formula for schools--to be phased in over a few years--is being floated.

The Barrington School District would see a boost of $3.8 million, or nearly 190 percent, over the next five years. Other winners include Providence (up $28.7 million, or more than 15 percent), Cranston (up $9.6 million, or almost 29 percent) and Pawtucket (up $6.9 million, or nearly 11 percent).

State Department of Education officials worked with Brown University to craft the plan and quietly shared drafts of the plan in recent weeks with some school districts, interest groups and legislative leaders, but planned a formal release at next Thursday's meeting of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education.

State lawmakers have for years considered formula proposals, but this represents the Department of Education's first formal proposal. Members of the House and Senate are expected to be briefed next week on the complicated formula that is sure to ignite a political firestorm.

Communities that lose funding would have as many as 10 years to absorb the cuts.

Central Falls heads the list of losers, down $11.6 million, or almost 26 percent. Others include the Bristol-Warren school district (down $9.1 million, almost 47 percent), the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, in Providence, (down $8.2 million, or 64 percent) and the Chariho School District (down $6.6 million, or nearly 47 percent). Aquidneck Island communities would be particularly hard hit as well; its three communities would lose a combined $7.4 million, or almost 29 percent.

This should be interesting.