Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A novel approach

A state Senator in New Hampshire has come up with an interesting idea: a single, statewide school district. It might work in a state like New Hampshire (i.e., a small state with a culturally homogenous population), but I can't imagine it being anything but a mess in larger, more populous states like Texas or California, or even larger geographic states like Montana or Alaska. Still, it's an interesting idea.

[Sen.] Gatsas, a Republican, has come up with a proposal that starts by adding up all the state's property wealth and dividing it by all the pupils in the state.

It sets a statewide benchmark for what should be raised for education per pupil and helps towns with smaller tax bases to achieve that goal. It also sends targeted aid to districts with extra costs for special education and other expenses.

However, only towns below 150 percent of the state average median income ($57,575) and 150 percent below the state average for equalized property value would qualify for targeted aid.

It raises $363 million with a state property tax of $2.84 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Most of that would remain in the communities that raise it, but wealthier towns that now donate a portion to subsidize poorer towns wouldn't have to. Wealthier towns could keep the money, but only if they spend it on education -- not to offset local tax rates.

The article goes on to say that the state Supreme Court is likely to rule that the House school finance plan is unconstitutional. The Senate wants guidance from the Supremes on the House plan and on this potential solution. It'll be interesting to see if this idea goes anywhere. At the very least, I'm happy that some policymakers -- even though they may be few and far between -- are making the attempt to have an original idea. How novel.


Blogger Chris C. said...

Actually, I think Hawaii already has a single statewide district.

7:00 AM  

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