School district funding hearing Jan. 3

  • An aerial view of Jaffrey from Conant High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District will hold a hearing on Jan. 3 to give the public an opportunity to voice its opinion on a potential change to the district’s apportionment formula.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the Conant High School Cafeteria.

The Jaffrey-Rindge School Board voted 5-2 on Dec. 4 to craft a warrant article that would change the district’s apportionment formula, eliminating equalized property value from the equation.

Currently, the formula is a 50-50 split of property values and average daily membership from each town.

The article will also include language to phase in the change over five years, beginning in fiscal year 2020. The phase in was proposed as 20-percent each year.

All state aid will continue to be credited to the towns, per the board's motion. There will also be a provision in the warrant article to review the apportionment formula if the state changes how it calculates the providing of adequacy aid.

Should the article remain unaltered and pass in March, the change would raise Jaffrey's tax rate by an estimated $2.80 per $1,000 of assessed value over the five-year period. Rindge would see an estimated decrease of $1.72 over the same period.

As the article would be changing the district's articles of agreement, it would need a 2/3 majority in March to pass.

Examining the fairness of the district's current apportionment formula first came to a head in January, when Rindge resident Roberta Oeser submitted a petition warrant article to eliminate property values from the district's apportionment formula.

“A lot of Rindge residents feel that they are subsidizing part of Jaffrey's portion,” said Oeser, during a budget hearing last January.

Jaffrey has had more students in the district since at least 2011 (ranging between 50.8-percent and 53.8-percent), while Rindge has had more equalized property valuation during the same period (ranging from 53.6-percent to 55.7-percent).

Oeser's petition article was amended to establish a committee to examine the fairness of the apportionment formula during deliberative session in February.

The committee – made up of a selectman, planning board member, school board member, and a budget committee member from each town – met throughout the spring and summer, eventually voting 6-2 to recommend not changing the district's apportionment formula, instead asking that all state aid credited to each town go to the school district prior to calculating apportionment. 

The school board and district looked into the possibility of making such a change, but it was deemed not to be possible. 

— By Nicholas Handy