June 6, 2013
Senator Watters’ Press Release on Increased Adequacy Funding for Dover and Rollinsford Schools
Senator David Watters announced that the Senate budget passed today includes increased funding he sought for School Adequacy for the Dover and Rollinsford schools. Both Dover and Rollinsford are in a group of 29 communities that have not been receiving the full amount the School Adequacy formula required due to a freeze in the base grants in the previous state budget and due to a cap on the increase granted from the base in previous years. Working with Rep. James Vershueren and the Dover Adequacy Committee, Sen. Watters proposed to the Senate Finance Committee a plan to address the shortfall.
Through the Senate amendment to House Bill 2, the funding cap on adequacy grants will be raised in FY 2014 and FY 2015 from 105.5 percent to 108 percent. This means Dover will receive a funding increase of over $484,000 for FY 14, $151,000 more than in the House and Governor’s budget, and an additional $523,000 in FY 2015, $172,000 more than the House and Governor’s budget. In total, the new formula means Dover will receive about $474,000 more in adequacy funding than had been proposed in the House and Governor’s budget. Rollinsford will see an increase of over $42,000.
Senator Watters applauded the vote of the Senate: “With this vote, the Senate takes a big step forward in addressing the shortfall of adequacy funding for communities like Dover. It is an acknowledgement that the legislature needs to ensure fairness, particularly for communities with growing enrollments.” The School Adequacy formula was developed in 2009 to meet the Supreme Court requirement that the State determine the cost of an adequate education and fund it for each child. Due to budgetary constraints, the formula was not fully funded, so Dover officials, including city councilors, Superintendent Jean Briggs Badger, and school board members met this fall to urge legislators to address the problem.
Senator Watters and Rep. James Verschueren took the case to the legislature, and Senator Watters secured the commitment of members of the Senate Finance Committee, other senators, and the Governor’s staff to seek a solution in the budget. Senator Watters comments, “This is an example of what can be accomplished when local officials, and legislators working in a bipartisan coalition, propose practical and fair solutions to improve educational funding for our schoolchildren. While I cannot guarantee this funding will survive the budget process, today marks an important commitment by my Senate colleagues.”
Rep. James Verschueren, consulting with Superintendent Briggs Badger and Caroline Mebert, requested the Legislative Budget Assistant Office to provide figures which demonstrated the plight of Dover, Rollinsford, and the other communities. Rep. Verschueren stated, “It is exceptionally gratifying that the Senate was able to begin now to address the inequitable distribution of adequacy funding in a deliberate and fair-handed first step. Many of us put in a lot of hard work to provide the information for this to happen. Senator Watters is to be fully credited for working diligently and effectively with his Senate colleagues.”
The Senate budget will now go to a committee of conference with the House. Senator Watters will work diligently with Senate and House members of the committee and with the Governor’s office to preserve this funding in the final budget.