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Eagle-Tribune: Majority of the cost of education is paid through local property taxes and varies widely town to town

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Here are highlights from the Eagle-Tribune coverage of the popular School Funding 101 forum executive councilor Andru Volinsky and attorney John Tobin presented in Derry recently:

Budgets, taxes and how to give students the best education possible were all topics of a recent forum aimed at issues dealing with how the state supports its schools.

Attorneys Andru Volinsky and John Tobin were guest speakers for an educational funding forum held recently at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School….

Derry residents approved a $82 million school budget at the polls in March, but the district has seen its school adequacy numbers fall in recent years.

Derry’s combined 2017 tax rate is $28.86, but the town has less property value that can be taxed, compared to a community like Londonderry where economic development and big industry supports the town’s financial structure and tax base.

“Derry’s taxes are high, but you have less to tax,” Tobin said. “The system makes you run harder and generate less.”

Tobin said school enrollment is shrinking, populations in some areas are shrinking and the economy in many areas is stagnant.

“And this educational funding system makes you have to work a lot harder to support your schools,” he said….

Tobin said the state is doing less and less in terms of school budgets….

Right now, more than 60 percent of the cost of educating children is paid through local property taxes and those rates vary from town to town.

The funding system also discourages young families from moving to school districts with high property taxes and struggling school systems, the attorneys said.

The state is also paying about 4 percent less to districts each year, part of a $150 million stabilization grant program being phased out. Derry loses about $346,000 per year because of this drop in aid.

Less building aid and other state support is wearing on many districts, Tobin said.

Both Tobin and Volinsky say it’s time for residents in all towns to take a look at how their schools are funded and begin conversations with their state legislators to voice concerns.

“This whole thing should be solved by legislation, not by lawyers going back to court,” Tobin said. “The core concept is, wherever they are, these kids are our kids. We need to make sure we take care of all our kids.”….

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