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Public Schools Go Home Disappointed With 5.4% Increase From Towns

The Joint Finance Committee unanimously approved the 2012 Bristol Warren Regional School District budget.

The Bristol Warren Regional School District is getting a 5.4 percent increase in spending from the two towns, but it is far less money than the schools were hoping for. At Tuesday's Joint Finance Committee meeting, the committee that controls local funding for the two-town school district, voted unanimously for the increase.

Yet the increase of $1,666,164 is slightly more than half of the $2.9 million increase the district had been seeking in fiscal year 2012. The total allocation is $32,652,684 from the two communities, with approximately 64 percent coming from Bristol and 36 percent from Warren. 

Prior to the decision, Superintendent Melinda Thies made a compelling presentation for the full increase, saying the money would be a solid investment in these communities.

"I do believe we are a worthy investment for the towns," she said. "It’s your decision how we make up the difference from the loss of revenue from the state. But I do know this, I believe that investing in the school district is the smartest thing you can do."

But after concluding her presentation, finance committee Chairman David Barboza said the towns simply do not have the money.

Bristol Town Councilor Mary Parella argued that money, although important to the school district, is not everything. 

"My view is that it's not all about money, it's about school reform, teachers and what goes on in the classroom," Parella said. "If money was the driving force, when we had a ton of money with the regional bonus, we would have been a top performing school, but that was not the case.”

To settle the ongoing dispute that the towns and district have faced over the years, the committee voted unanimously to address future budget issues by creating a task force of community members, town leaders and council chairmen to deal with the issues head on in coming years. 

MikeT1947 March 31, 2011 at 01:57 AM
The School Committee KNEW that their budget request was illegal, because it would have caused a tax increase higher than the limit allowed by law. The School Committee Chairman said immediately that the Joint Finance Committee could ask for a waiver. This proves that he knew what he was asking for was illegal. I was the first person who spoke after the Chairman. I repeat: NO TAX INCREASE. The applicable law calls for a maximum allowable increase. The JFC can give less, or nothing at all. They could even cut. That's what the dishonest people on that committee deserve.
Susan March 31, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Rep. Galinske did what was right for the STATE of RI....every child deserves an equal education which is not based on his address. The unions drove him out of office by their illicit and disgusting tactics. Doug is a decent man and I hope he runs for office again.
02809 April 01, 2011 at 04:33 AM
I believe that the JFC acted in the best interest of all involved; Warren & Bristol citizens as well as Students. Teachers can villify th JFC however; the ownace falls on them to contribute more to their pensions and healthcare, ultimately it is their responsibility to live within their means. In the end I feel that they (teachers) will act as they are a snake cornered and come out biting.
DownTown March 29, 2012 at 11:35 PM
That property tax cap law is a paper tiger that can easily be overridden. Unlike the property tax cap in MA. The state designed it to make it look like some protection while at the same time keeping the unions well fed.
DownTown March 29, 2012 at 11:44 PM
The funding formula came from Brown University. The sanctuary cities are getting most of the aid increases. The state has been using the same funding formula since the 90's and our schools benefited from the state being locked into the same formula since then. Central Falls gets an obscene amount of state aid. For 19,000 people they receive $40 million in state aid - more than all but the 5 largest RI cities.

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