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Finance Board Signs Off on Change to School Funding Method

The Bristol Warren Regional School Joint Finance Committee approves resolution to use alternate method of determining budget breakdown for each town.

Joint Finance Committee Chairman Nathan Calouro. Credit: W.Rupp
Joint Finance Committee Chairman Nathan Calouro. Credit: W.Rupp

The method used to fund the Bristol Warren schools is another step closer to changing. 

The Bristol Warren Regional Joint Finance Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday evening, Jan. 22, that it feels will smooth out the ups and downs of school funding that have occurred over the years. The vote was unanimous, 9-0.

The new method drops the use of Oct. 1 each year to determine enrollment figures and spending for each town each year. The Joint Finance Committee wants to try an alternate method that would use an average daily membership (ADM) over a 13-year time period – the length of time children go to school in the district from K to grade 12.  

“The surprises will be so much smaller,” said JFC chairman Nathan Calouro, a Bristol town councilor. “The lows not as low, the highs not as high. We should have a realistic idea of what’s coming.”

For example, Calouro said, the approximate $800,000 boost for Bristol last year would have been less than half with the ADM method.

And the approximate $416,000 increase for Warren that led to a 2-year-old lawsuit that is still before a judge “would not have been that number,” he said.

Warren also faces a potential $1.5 million increase in school spending this year that would probably be reduced considerably with the ADM method, he said.

The funding resolution still has to go to the Bristol and Warren Town Councils for approval. Warren voted in favor of the concept at its Jan. 14 meeting; it did not have the final draft resolution at that time.

If the two town councils sign off on the resolution, it will then be given to the state legislators to take to the General Assembly, which would have to change the enabling legislation that formed the regional school district 22 years ago. The change also would need approval by voters at the November election.

The other item on the agenda, increasing Warren’s membership on the Joint Finance Committee from 3 to 4 members, was continued until the JFC’s next meeting, Calouro said. 

“We were told that the makeup of the committee is based on U.S. Census numbers, the total population of each town,” he said. 

The proposal was sent to each town’s solicitor for more review. The JFC could not simply change the membership because of that requirement, he said. It might mean adding a seventh member from Bristol if Warren gets a fourth member.

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