Guest Contribution by Arthur Green
Timberlane’s official Facebook page explaining State Adequacy Aid encourages the conclusion that the state of NH is shortchanging Timberlane and thus causing an excessive property tax burden. The truth is that our Adequacy Aid has changed very little, and is up from 2007/08, with this year higher than last year, and down about $250,000 (2%) from the peak years which is appropriate since our enrollment is falling. Here are the actual numbers:
School Year Adequacy Aid
- 2007/08 $11,166,076
- 2008/09 $11,166,076
- 2009/10 $11,594,403
- 2010/11 $11,620,385
- 2011/12 $11,620,385
- 2012/13 $11,620,385
- 2013/14 $11,337,533
- 2014/15 $11,384,289 (preliminary)
Like all numbers, these have to be put in context. Although it seems like our aid is decreasing slightly, in fact, the amount of aid per student in Timberlane is shooting up. On a per pupil basis, Adequacy Aid is up 20.3% from 2007/08 to the end of the last school year. And it has gone up every single year.
In the chart below you can compare the aid amount against the number of students. (I am using the “Average Daily Membership” rather than Enrollment, since the Adequacy Aid is calculated based on ADM.)
|School Year||Adequacy Aid||ADM||Aid Per Pupil (ADM)|
The ADM figure for 2014/15 will not be available until next summer, because it is measured on full year attendance, but we can estimate based on enrollment that the per pupil aid for 2014/15 will likely be up by an additional 4.4%.
It is obvious that the state is not responsible for our school tax burden. It is our district’s budget that is responsible for that. Our cost per Timberlane pupil is up 44% from the 2007/2008 school year to the current year. That’s in just seven years.
Cost per pupil in 2007/08: $10,573
… and in 2014/15: $15,226 (estimated from budget)
If the district is spending too much money, it is beside the point to beg for somebody else to pick up the bill.
And who pays for the NH State Adequacy Aid?
Answer: we do. The taxpayer is the same, and it is a fantasy to expect that the burden is less if it is levied by Concord rather than the school district.
Don’t we all pay gas taxes? Restaurant taxes? Liquor excise taxes?
The argument for more state aid is similar to saying that the state should triple its education property tax, and then claim credit for “sending” more aid to the school district. There is one very important difference between the state and the local portion of the school taxes: who is held accountable for levying the taxes. It is a huge temptation for elected reps to spend money which was raised by a different level of government.