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Regional School District Planning Board Will Revise Reported Financial Assessment Figures
Submitted by kochn on Tue, 02/12/2013 - 9:19pm.
The financial consultant working with the Regional School District Planning Board (RSDPB) is reviewing his findings in response to questions and comments from the RSDPB and the public. The report is part of a process whereby the RSDPB is considering whether to recommend that a new region for elementary schools (through grade 6) replace the separate town-based districts in Amherst, Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury. The consultant has identified the need to adjust the possible distribution of education costs to towns for a new educational Region. Other changes may be made before a new report is issued.
The financial consultant, Mark Abrahams, projected that the towns would collectively pay less to support their elementary schools as a region than with the current structure. Adjusting the distribution of costs will affect how savings are distributed and how each town would be affected by the change to a regional elementary district. The adjustment is needed to correctly reflect the enrollment numbers in the PK-12 estimated assessments.
In the report issued on February 2, Abrahams presented two methodologies for distributing these costs via an annual assessment. He then estimated assessments for both of them for a new preK-6 region, which would be additional to the current 7-12 region, and for a possible region that would include all grades, PK-12. The actual assessment method would be recommended by the RSDPB and adopted by the towns if a regional school district is created. One of the allocation methods uses the average enrollment from each town for the last five years. The other model, known as the statutory assessment method, considers community wealth in its calculations. The enrollment average is the assessment model currently used for the Amherst Regional School system, which includes grades 7-12.
Planning Board Chair Andrew Steinberg explained that projections are estimates and a snapshot based upon what is known and assumed at the time it is produced. Abrahams found an error in the use of enrollment numbers and the revised report will reflect that adjustment. Steinberg said that he appreciates Abrahams’ diligence in continuing to examine the estimate and providing this updated information for the communities. “The board will sponsor forums in each town before March 3 and participants in the forums will have a more informed discussion with the most accurate financial projections as a result of Mr. Abrahams’ diligence.” He went on to explain that as the Board continues to consider regionalization of elementary schools, inevitably new factors and assumptions will need to be considered and integrated into an evolving financial analysis.
On March 9 the RSDPB will decide whether a regional approach will be beneficial, educationally and financially. If the RSDPB reaches that conclusion, it will consider additional questions such as how to structure a School Committee that fairly represents all four towns and how residents and parents in each town can participate in decisions affecting the elementary schools in their communities. The RSDPB would then present a proposal to voters at elections in November 2013.
More information can be found at the RSDPB website, www.RegionalSchoolPlanning.com.
Last updated February 12, 2013