Letter: Level-funding May Spur Lawsuit
School Committee members express support for the school district's efforts to receive greater investment from Warren.
Fellow Warren residents and taxpayers,
We, the Warren representatives of the Bristol-Warren Regional School Committee, wanted to take this time to address the school-related issues that have been discussed in our local newspapers, social media sites and coffee houses. While we recognize that the town of Warren is in a tough financial state, it is important to provide some facts to counteract the misconceptions that are out there so that we can all make informed decisions at the Warren Town Financial Meeting at Kickemuit Middle School on May 21.
Regarding the Regionalization Bonus, the BW Regional School District did receive additional funds from the state when the two towns regionalized. This was meant to be a short-term funding source to help with the transition. This extra income was not a “bonus” to the school district that allowed us to spend frivolously. It allowed the two towns to contribute less of their municipal budgets than other communities in the state.
- According to the RI Department of Municipal Finance website, in 2010, the town of Warren’s contribution to its schools was 47 percent of the municipal budget.
- In the state of RI, the average school budget is over 60 percent of the municipal budget, with communities similar to Bristol/Warren contributing around 70-80 percent.
- Warren ranks 35th out of 39 school districts in the percent of school budget versus municipal budget. This places Bristol/Warren with the likes of such troubled educational communities as Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket and Central Falls. For a statistical comparison of Warren to other communities, please visit www.ride.ri.gov/Finance/funding/uniform%20chart%20of%20Accounts.
- The percent of the budget the town contributes to the schools is going down while the municipal budget continues to increase.
- The school district's per-pupil cost is below the state average.
- We have eliminated 17 certified staff positions since 2010, our administrators haven’t received a raise in two years and we have negotiated a concessionary contract with the teachers union that will save the district more than $1.7 million dollars with no pay increases for the next three years.
We are getting an excellent return on our investment. The revenue income from our local communities is FAR below the state average as is our per pupil costs. Yet, our schools continue to be high performing. By investing in a quality education, you will strengthen property values, provide solid tax base revenue, expand business and job opportunities and provide long-term economic sustainability.
There is a policy in place for appealing the JFC decision, but the Town of Warren chose not to follow this appeal process. If the town of Warren stands on its decision to level-fund the school district, we will have no choice but to support the school district in its need to take the town of Warren to court. We believe the BWRSD will prevail and will seek to be reimbursed for the costs associated with going to court.
Our goal is to provide you with complete information and let you decide what is best for you and your family.
BW Regional School Committee