OAKLAND — The towns of Regional School District 18 spend on average about the same amount to educate each of their students, but the way the funding for those costs is split between the state and each town varies widey, Superintendent Gary Smith told the school board Wednesday.

During a special meeting of the school board Wednesday night, Smith presented financial information for the school in a new format that shows how much is spent on students in each of the district’s five towns of Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney under state funding formulas.

The average amount spent per student is almost the same in each town.

Oakland students cost the district the least, at $9,716 each, which is not much different than the district’s most expensive students in China, who cost $10,005 each. Students in Sidney cost $9,724 each; in Belgrade they cost $9,799 each; and in Rome, they cost $9,929 each.

But, while the cost per student is very similar, the source of funding for those students varies significantly, Smith said.

For each town, the split between the state and the town is determined by the state funding formula, which relies heavily on local property valuations.

The district also assesses an amount per student that is slightly above the amount provided for in the state funding formula.

The towns which the state considers to have high valuations are expected to pay more in local property taxes, while the towns which have relatively low valuations receive more assistance from the state.

If Rome were its own district, Smith said, the state’s funding formula would expect local property owners to pay the entire $9,638 that the state calculates should be spent per student.

In Belgrade, the state would pay $58 per student leaving $9,582 for local property owners.

In the district’s other three towns, the state would pay a majority of each student’s education if they were their own distinct districts.

In China, the state would pay $4,807 and the local share would be $4,594.

In Sidney, the state would pay $5,495 per student, and the local share would be $4,151.

In Oakland, the state provides the most assistance per student, at $5,593, which would leave local property owners to pay $4,594.

Smith released copies of a bar graph that demonstrated the relative amounts paid for each student, and the sources of that funding, in each of the district’s five towns.

Also at the meeting, board members unanimously approved warrant articles for an upcoming public vote on the district’s budget. The articles had to be signed earlier than the rest of the warrant articles because they are categorized differently under state law, Smith said.

The articles that were improved included $350,859 in bonds though a zero interest, state-funded program for the purposes of renovations at the district.

Under the program, asbestos flooring will be removed at China Middle School, the elevators will be upgraded at Belgrade Central School, and the portable classrooms will be relocated at Atwood Primary School to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Smith’s proposed budget of $32,281,753 was approved in early April by the board. On May 1, the board is scheduled to vote on the remaining budget warrants. Residents can cast votes on individual warrants at a district budget meeting on May 9.

The budget will ultimately be approved or rejected by voters during a districtwide budget referendum scheduled for May 21.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]

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