Jaffrey/Rindge District: Rindge wants formula change

  • Jaffrey-Rindge Superintendent Reuben Duncan, left, and School Board vice-chair Charlie Eicher listen to Budget Advisory Committee member Roberta Oeser during Friday’s budget hearing.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, January 17, 2017 6:41AM

A Rindge-based petition warrant article seeks to change how the Jaffrey-Rindge School District calculates what percentage each town pays into the district. 

The petition – submitted by Budget Advisory Committee member and Rindge Selectwoman Roberta Oeser – asks voters to amend article eight of the district’s Articles of Agreement to have district expenses be divided between the Jaffrey and Rindge based on each town’s average daily membership of students.

Currently, the percentage is derived by a 50-50 mix of the average daily membership and the town’s equalized valuations. 

“A lot of Rindge residents feel that they are subsidizing part of Jaffrey’s portion,” said Oeser, during a budget hearing on Friday. “I think it would be more fair to do things based on student count.” 

The district estimates that for the 2017-18 school year, Jaffrey will pay 48.6-percent of the budget and warrant articles approved at Town Meeting, while Rindge will pay 51.4-percent. 

Though Jaffrey has more students per day – 53.25-percent of the spread to Rindge’s 46.75 – the town also has a much lower net equalized value. Jaffrey’s net equalized value is $419,375,018, or 44-percent of the total valuation, while Rindge’s is $534,594,444, according to information provided by the district. 

School Board chair Laurel McKenzie said at the meeting that the district did not know specifically how the passing of this warrant article – which is said to need a two-thirds majority vote to pass – would affect the current tax rate estimates, but estimated the tax rate would go up $2.50 for Jaffrey and down $2 for Rindge. 

Oeser said she brought forth the petition article because she felt the current formula was unfair to Rindge residents. Oeser said valuation was a bad measure to use for apportionment of the budget, as the towns use different firms to calculate their valuations. 

Oeser also said that Jaffrey benefits from having TIF Districts, which she said are not included in the equalized valuation calculations, and more state aid.

If voters were to approve the petition article, the district would not be the only one in the state to use average daily membership exclusively to calculate what each towns in the district pays.

Dresden Cooperative, Exeter Regional Cooperative, Fall Mountain Regional (at the high school level), Lafayette Regional, Mascoma Valley, Merrimack Valley, Newfound Area, Sanborn Regional, and Timberlane Regional School Districts all use average daily membership to calculate apportionment, according to a handout provided at the meeting. 

Contoocook Valley and Wilton-Lyndeborough currently use a 50/50 model and Mascenic uses a formula that is 75-percent average daily membership and 25-percent equalized valuation for operating expenses and 50-50 for capital expenses, according to the same handout. 

The School Board also voted on warrant article recommendations.

The board unanimously recommended the following articles: raising and appropriating $2,877,028 for the construction and installation of energy savings and heating equipment throughout the district, which will be offset by $196,000 in rebates and funded by a bond of no more than $2,681,028 with $67,026 as a first payment; raising and appropriating $25,397,600 for the district’s operating budget (if the article fails, the default budget is $25,999,574); appropriating $180,000 from the district’s capital reserve fund to renovate and repair the Conant High School Applied Technology Center building; and increasing the cap on the School Board’s authority as agents to expend from the district’s capital reserve fund from $100,000 to $150,000.