The Truth about Adequacy Aid

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)
2007/08 $11,166,076.00 4523.39 $2,468.52
2008/09 $11,166,076.00 4360.14 $2,560.94
2009/10 $11,594,403.00 4259.25 $2,722.17
2010/11 $11,620,385.00 4151.56 $2,799.04
2011/12 $11,620,385.00 4007.66 $2,899.54
2012/13 $11,620,385.00 3924.74 $2,960.80
2013/14 $11,337,533.00 3819.37 $2,968.43
2014/15 $11,384,289.00    


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.



Filed under Sandown Issues

11 responses to “The Truth about Adequacy Aid

  1. Peter Bealo

    What Arthur fails to mention, or perhaps even realize, is that state adequacy funding is not the same for all 4 TRSD towns, it varies significantly by town. See below.

    Year Atkinson Danville Plaistow Sandown TOTAL
    2013 $1,047,436 $3,691,842 $2,141,546 $4,739,561 $11,620,385
    2014 $1,131,231 $3,346,873 $2,312,870 $4,546,599 $11,337,573
    up $84K down $345K UP $171K down $193K

    So Danville and Sandown are seeing their state funding reduced as Atkinson and Plaistow see funding rise on a real basis. As Sandown and Danville’s state aid decreases, their taxpayers need to pay more by the same amount while Atkinson and Plaistow’s taxpayers pay less.

    • Arthur Green

      The topic of this thread is not burden sharing between four towns, it is the level of state aid to the district. I am making the argument that Timberlane school district is funded more than fairly by the state, and more than generously by the taxpayers of all four towns.

      The expenditure budget of Timberlane is not a town-by-town budget, and we need to keep our eye on the gross overspending by the district, far exceeding comparable districts which deliver better academic results.

      Some people seem desperate to reduce the issue to one town complaining about an unfair share of the burden. That is a tactic to divert from the true issue and simultaneously marginalize those arguing for fiscal responsibility.

  2. Peter Bealo

    I don’t know who “some people” are, but if you really aren’t interested in how the state essentially screwed the citizens of Sandown and Danville and lay it all on the school district you’re missing part of the big picture. Just as you miss another part by ignoring Sandown’s incessant growth of starter single family homes which you are now paying for by sending more kids to the schools. To blame this all on the school district is delusional and a disservice to your own town.

    • And of course the fact the the district’s budget has gone up $4.5 million in two years with rapidly falling enrollment has NOTHING whatsoever to do with taxes. Always better to blame the state than to blame yourself. I was on the planning board for four years. You have no basis in fact for your statement about Sandown’s starter home explosion. Do you consider every single family home a starter home?

  3. Peter Bealo

    Per NESDEC, here are the number of new residential building permits in all 4 towns from 2010 – Aug 2014

    Atkinson – 31
    Danville – 27
    Plaistow – 18
    Sandown -115

    As a past Planning Board member you ought to know the avg. number of students per household (something greater than 0.5) and you should know that the last time a Sandown survey on growth was done over 90% of Sandown respondents wanted more single family homes while just about 50% wanted any commercial. By denying the obvious fact that Sandown is not (or perhaps cannot!) controlling it’s growth you pass this on as somebody else’s problem. Sandown isn’t the victim: it’s part of the cause! It’s easy to blame some other entity like the school district. it’s tougher to look in the mirror and take responsibility. The school district didn’t make Sandown add so many homes & students, you folks just don’t have the willpower to stop it.

    Are you just not capable of admitting that as a Planning Board member you either were too blind, had no power, or was a willing accomplice to increasing the taxes on your neighbors by allowing virtually unfettered growth in single family homes???

    • A good part of those approved building permits were for senior housing units that never got built in Sandown. We are lucky to live in a town that people want to move to. Do you have a problem with the American Dream, Mr. Bealo?
      I am trying to find out just what proportion of single family vs. age restricted units have been approved and then have been built.

      • There are permits that get pulled but don’t result in a build; however, it is clear that Sandown is experiencing more single family development than neighboring towns. There is a development going up near my house of about 20 homes. About 12 are built and of those only one seems to have children.

  4. Len Mullen

    Mr. Bealo is simply trying to distract you from the fact that the cost per student is rising dramatically even as performance plummets. What we need to look at is the root cause of the increases. Surely, a $6,000,000 performing arts center has dramatically impacted the budget since inception. The siphoning of funds to pay for and support that albatross has impacted funding for academics which has made our schools and towns less attractive. Since we pay the same fixed costs as people flee, the burden for those who stay increases.

    Of course, the number of students per classroom, the number of non-teaching positions, and the cost of these non-teaching positions have an impact.

    Finally the terrible mistakes of the governing body — from the PAC to the elimination of the vocational arts resources to the addition of science labs our staff is not qualified to operate have all contributed to cost while doing nothing to improve performance.

    The latest non-value-added expense is hiring the Metzlers as contractors. The next non-value-added expense will be hiring a PR resource. My kid’s english teacher is working from home today and was out Friday — the last day of the quarter. Two more non-teaching days. His freshman year, the science teacher missed so many days she would have failed the course had she been a student. Instead she failed the students.

  5. Peter Bealo

    To Donna’s point yesterday at 1:14PM: If Sr living developments were approved but not built, as you stated, they did NOT count toward the number of new construction building permits issued. Permits are only pulled when construction will occur because they cost money to obtain and have a 6 month life, per national code. A former Planning Board member ought to know this. So my numbers included only built homes, not planned but unbuilt senior developments. Of course I believe in the American dream: I also believe that towns need to control their growth, or at least distribute their growth over different development classes (residential, industrial, commercial, etc) in order to avoid taxation issues such as Sandown’s present dilemma.

    Len: What objective data do you have that our HS science teachers are unqualified? I personally know most of them and know they are a VERY highly qualified and motivated group. I would gladly have any of them teach my kids, and in fact my kids thrived under them and both have gone on to STEM majors in college. Are you picking on them in particular because you think nobody will call you out or just personal malevolence?? And as for the PAC being a waste: over 1,000 kids per day have classes or lessons in the PAC, that’s pretty high usage in my book. And haven’t I seen you lurking there on many occasions?? Your your family has benefited by it’s existence.

  6. Peter Bealo

    As for the PAC being a terrible mistake: the vote to authorize its construction was 4635 to 1717, A 73% approval. I’m unclear how that’s not a pretty overwhelming mandate.

    • Rob Collins

      Mr. D told us in the PAC at our 10/16 meeting that 47% of the HS and 100% of the MS are involved in the music program at Timberlane. Phenomenal numbers and evidence that the PAC is well utilized. The elementary schools also use it for concerts among other things music related. The community uses it as well for concerts, movies and plays.

      The $6M spent to build the PAC in 2000 (I’m using Len’s numbers, not sure if they are accurate) would be 3 or 4 times that to build it today.

      Overall, all things considered, investing in the PAC was a wise choice by the voters in 1999 (was that the year it was on the warrant?).

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