Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A series of columns about a rural school district in Massachusetts

The superintendent of the Gateway regional school has run a remarkable series of columns focusing on the squeeze on rural school districts, both financially and in terms of accountability.

The state budget issues are addressed in the following columns.

March 5
March 26
April 2nd
April 16
April 23
April 30
May 7
May 14th

And a couple on accountability issues, and the related budget issues.

March 12th
March 19th
April 9th
May 21 (current issue)

And a school committee appeal for the "R.E.D" circuit breaker, plus the proposed budget including consolidation of elementary schools.

I can't improve on Superintendent David Hopson's commentary on either budgets or accountability, and I recommend the whole series for anyone interested in the issues. Clearly, Gateway is a well administered district, in spite of its fiscal difficulties.

In terms of target local share, the Gateway Regional district will receive $244K below its target aid share next year, or 2.1% of its foundation budget less than the state says is equitable. This puts Gateway in the bottom 11 regional school districts in the state as far as aid shortfall; not as bad as Franklin County (2.6% of foundation), Wachusett (4.3%) Hampshire (4.7%), Hampden Wilbraham (7.6%). But two-thirds of the amount that could be saved by shuttering a couple town's elementary schools.

Three of the seven towns in the Gateway Regional pay required minimum contributions far above their target local share, one paying 32.4% over, and another paying 24.6% over, and a third pays 15.7% over. For all this overpaying, the required contributions plus state aid only amounts to 101.1% of foundation this year.

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