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.