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General Assembly passes funding formula

June 11, 2010

Rhode Island is as close to it’s been in recent years to no longer being the only state in the country that doesn’t use a formula to determine state aid to school districts. A bill passed by both houses of the state legislature last night would calculate school aid based on student enrollment and need. it also calls for $15.5 million in additional state funding for education and $10 million in add-ons that include funding for transportation and special education services.

The extra money is intended as a cushion for districts that will loose significant funding under the new system. Bristol-Warren, for example, will lose $850,000 each year for the next 10 years as the formula goes into effect, according to the Rhode Island Association of School Committees. Advocates for the formula say they wish the state would contribute an even larger percentage of education costs state-wide, but they say the formula will help address inequities in school funding, especially in urban districts. Critics say the bill unfairly penalizes districts that regionalized at the urging of the state. They also warn that it may cause property taxes to rise in some districts or force school closures.

The formula would go into effect for the fiscal year that begins July 1st, 2011. It still has to be signed into law by Governor Carcieri.

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