Why Durham Pays More per Student

Amended 6 March 2014 3pm, based on updated information the amounts taxed locally have increased and the amount of State Aide has decreased. However, the positive impact on Durham if the State Grant money was shared has increased by more than $200,000.

Oyster River Cooperative School District required $35,120,811 in taxpayer funding from Durham, Lee and Madbury for fiscal year 2014. This funding resulted in per student costs of:

Durham     $20,065

Lee             $15,685

Madbury    $15,347

Average     $17,666

Why does Durham pay $2,399 more than the average cost per student? It all goes back to the Agreement between Durham, Lee and Madbury that formed the Oyster River Cooperative School District. The agreement was 50% of the School Appropriations would be allocated to the member communities based on their relative taxable property valuation and the remaining 50% would be allocated based on the Average Daily Membership (students) from each community. The amounts calculated above are for the number of students by community not the Average Daily Membership so the actual calculations may vary slightly.

The School Board wants to put their funding requests in the most positive light so they use a term on the School Budget Form “Estimated Amount of Local Taxes to be Raised for Education” which in 2014 amounted to $30,350,619 or $4,770,191 less than the amounts actually appropriated from the member communities. This is the result of a New Hampshire State Grant program designed to try and equalize the impact of education costs across the State. The State monies are paid directly to the Towns.

For fiscal year 2014 the Towns received State Grants amounting to:

Durham     $1,242,406

Lee             $2,602,095

Madbury    $  925,690

Total           $4,770,191

Because these amounts are not paid to the Oyster River Cooperative School District they are not subject to the original sharing agreement. However, had the $4,770,191 been shared ratably as the total School Appropriation was, then Durham’s total appropriation would have been reduced by $2,526,335 versus the $1,242,406. More than $1,250,000 than it actually received from the State, obviously that money would have come from reductions in the amounts that Lee and Madbury did receive.

School Appropriation for fiscal year 2014 was $35,120,811 and reductions in that amount would not reduce the level of State Aid but rather our Town taxes. Additionally, the State formulas deal with State-wide valuations, among other things, and it is possible that aid could be cut to one or more of the member communities with no change to the overall State program. There is also no guarantee that the State will continue those programs as they have excessively large unfunded liabilities of their own which unfortunately we will have to fund as well. Another thing to consider is where the State gets its money – from us; so State Aid is simply moving money from one pocket to another. The danger is the State terminates Education Aid but continues collecting the taxes.

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