November 18, 2017

My Two Cents

Posted

Do you think it would be fair for Dighton taxpayers to pay for Rehoboth’s students? Or vice a versa? Every regional school follows an “alternative” method in funding by the member towns. Why doesn’t Dighton Rehoboth have an alternative method that basically states that each member town pay for its students? Don’t you think that’s fair? Why would one town pay to educate another towns students?

When I refer to an alternative method, I am referring to this “wealth” formula that was put into place in the early 2000’s…..Which basically changed the way schools were funded. It took into account not only the value of your house (how much you would get from property taxes) but also the town residents income. Why you would factor income into the formula makes absolutely no sense. Rehoboth is considered a “wealthy” town for purposes of calculating chapter 70 money. As a result, Rehoboth receives 40% funding vs Dighton’s 50% funding. If the school committee voted for an alternative method, Rehoboth would pay more per student than Dighton. I’m not arguing this….I’m arguing that Rehoboth currently pays not only for its own students but is subsidizing Dighton. You might be asking, how can that be? Who would let this happen? Why wouldn’t the school committee vote that each town pays for its respective students?

If this wealth formula was in place some 25 years ago when Dighton and Rehoboth were looking to regionalize, neither town would have signed the agreement. Take a look at the column from Michael McBride. He and his wife, Susan, spent countless hours getting information and speaking to people at the state level to try to explain what is happening in our district. Please take some time to read it…it is very well written.

I’ve been talking about this for some time…..when I sat on the Finance committee back in 2006, my board saw this “freight train” coming down the track (freight train called wealth formula) and how devastating it would be to Rehoboth. Rehoboth Tax payers are paying to educate Dighton students. Why do I think that if Dighton was paying to educate Rehoboth students there would be an alternative method in place?

If you are a taxpayer in Rehoboth, contact your school committee member and superintendent and TELL them you want your tax dollars to pay to educate Rehoboth students, not Dighton…and to vote for an Alternative Method like every other regional school. Rehoboth pays to educate their children and Dighton pays to educate its children. It’s so basic….it’s beyond crazy that our school committee and school administrators don’t insist on it.

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Christopher Andrade

As is typical in the “My Two Cents” column, this editorial is filled with lots of opinion and little fact. The facts are that the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District which was established by the two towns in 1958 and amended in 1987 never spelled out any talk of an “alternative” assessment method. The Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District has received state aid since its formation and neither in 1958 nor in 1987 did anyone seek to change the apportionment of state funding to the district. Regardless it is NOT true that “Every regional school follows an “alternative” method” in funding”. In fact, most do not. As is done in Somerset-Berkley, the “alternative” assessment is used as a transitional financing method for newly regionalized districts. It is rarely used as a permanent funding method.

The facts are that the state uses it’s own wealth formula to provide state aid to towns and school districts. This is based upon a towns property value and personnel income. In the case of Rehoboth, the Equalized Property Value is $1.76 billion dollars. The Equalized Property Value of Dighton is $893 million dollars, or about half of Rehoboth. Accordingly, Rehoboth would receive about half as much state aid as compared to Dighton if apportioned to this one measure.

Secondly the “My Two Cents” column implores you to contact your local school committee members and the district superintendent to “TELL them you want your tax dollars to pay to educate Rehoboth students, not Dighton”. How silly and misguided of a statement this is by an elected official of the town of Rehoboth. Your local school committee members CANNOT break the law and reapportion staid aid to Rehoboth, and why should they do so? Why would they take state aid which is allocated to Dighton and allocate it to Rehoboth instead?

If you feel strongly that the state aid apportionment method is unfair, you should be reaching out to your local legislature to ask them to change it. The Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District follows the “statutory” assessment method. The is the law. While I am a member of the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee, I am providing you these factual comments as a citizen to help my neighbors and friends to better understand this complex topic. These comments are not a statement from the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District.

Sincerely,

Christopher Andrade

Thursday, September 7
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