Solving the 4% Annual Cut in State Aid to Schools
The State has been taxing us for several years to collect money that it then redistributes to cities and towns as school aid with more going back to poorer towns. On your December 2017 tax bill, it was called simply "State" and the rate was $2.08/$1,000. Instead of calling it State Aid to Schools, they call it "Stabilization Grants for Education."
4% Less Aid Vs. 4% Less Spending
The state legislature decided a few years ago to start cutting the amount given back to cities and towns by 4% per year. It's not clear if they will also cut the state tax by 4% per year. Towns have had to start increasing the local school tax to offset the drop in state aid.
The Allenstown Budget Committee invited your state representatives to their mid-December meeting, but the discussion became contentious. Budget Committee members argued that the state was shirking its responsibility to provide aid for public education and that the school budget was as trim as possible. (Taxpayers are probably rolling their eyes about now.) Senator Reagan and Rep. McGuire contended that the school budget was excessive and they needed to get spending under control.
Pembroke was a recent example of out-of-control school spending. That school board and the SAU still have not clearly explained how they overspent $737,000, and what were the enrollment numbers at Pembroke Academy (PA) this past year numbers which declined without being noticed until too late. Along with the huge tax increase for Pembroke residents, Allenstown tax payers will have to pay 5% more for tuition to PA.
School Budget Facts
Consider these Allenstown school budget facts. The proposed 2018-19 school budget is $10,084,499 for an estimated 542 students, which works out to $18,606 per student. 114 students (21%) are coded for Special Ed, an expensive situation mandated by state law, which forces towns to fund Special Ed via property taxes.
Look closely at the following data:
*1 For $10,000 less per student, it's time to move toward school vouchers for private schools. For your enlightenment, check out the private school links under Related Sites.
A Sort of Solution
In reaction to complaints about the 4% annual cut in school aid, on Jan. 12, 2017, the House introduced HB 525, "a bill relative to stabilization grants for education." It aimed to halt the declining percentage by fixing future grants to 100% of 2018 levels. (In mid-December, state representatives discussed the situation with the Budget Committee.
A Vote on HB 525
After languishing all year in the House Education Committee, it looks like there will be a vote of the full House on Jan. 3, 2018, but BEWARE, the amended version of Nov. 14, 2017 fixes grants to 100% of 2020 levels, not the original 2018 levels! Not good!
What You Can Do
1. Contact your state reps and senators and tell them to support the original version of the bill, the one that sets the grant to 100% of the 2018 levels. Tell them to also work on an alternative to the Stabilization Grants.
To find them, go to the Who's My Legislator site. Select Allenstown from the pulldown list and click on Go!
For Allenstown, contact State Reps. Alan Turcotte and Carol McGuire and State Senator John Reagan.
2. Attend the Public Hearing on Jan. 13, 2018 and the Deliberative Session on Feb. 3, 2018. Vote to cut the school budget by a reasonable amount.
3. On Election Day, March 13, 2018, vote for school board candidates who pledge to cut the school budget. One idea they must work on is to consolidate all elementary school students into one building.