Jaffrey-Rindge to craft warrant article for student-based apportionment formula 

  • Jaffrey-Rindge School Board member John McCarthy was one of two board members to vote against the proposed apportionment change. Dec. 4, 2017. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 06, 2017 5:26PM

The Jaffrey-Rindge School Board voted 5-2 to prepare a warrant article to eliminate equalized property value from the school district’s apportionment formula, currently a 50-50 mix that also includes average daily student membership.

The motion, approved during the Monday school board meeting, also included language to phase in the change over five years and to trigger a review of the district’s formula should the state change how it calculates adequacy aid. All state aid will remain with each town, as is currently the case.

“We’re trying to get to fairness. It’s the whole point of this exercise,” said vice chair Charles Eicher, during the meeting. “There’s two ways [to make things fair.] You can take all state aid off the top or go to a student-based formula.”

Should the warrant article pass in March, the town of Jaffrey would see an estimated tax rate increase of $2.80 per $1,000 of assessed value over the five-year period, with Rindge seeing an estimated decrease of $1.72 over the same period. By using a phase in, the change would happen at 20-percent intervals per year beginning with the 2019-20 school year. 

John McCarthy and Allison Bergeron – both Jaffrey representatives on the school board – were the two dissenting votes, with McCarthy originally making a failed motion to change the formula to 75 percent student count and 25 percent property value. 

“I feel that going to a 100-percent student-based formula would be going from one unfortunate situation to another,” said McCarthy, prior to the vote on his motion. “It would leave Jaffrey at the mercy of the state aid system.”

A committee was created by a petition article ballot vote in March to study the apportionment formula. The committee – made up of a selectman, planning board member, school board member, and budget/budget advisory committee member from each town – was tasked with looking at the fairness of the current formula and to recommend any new changes by Oct. 1.

The committee met throughout the summer and eventually recommended 6-2 to keep the current formula in place and credit all state aid to the towns instead of the district. 

The school board met on Nov. 27 to discuss alternatives after determining the committee’s recommendation couldn’t be executed. 

The topic of apportionment came to a head in January after Rindge resident Roberta Oeser submitted a petition article to change the formula to a 100-percent student based formula. The article was amended at deliberative session to create the apportionment committee. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.