School funding is divisive issue in Hollis, Brookline
If the article passes, the school district would determine each town’s tuition costs based equally on the middle and high school students’ average daily memberships in the preceding fiscal year and the most recent equalized valuation of each district.
Right now, the district operates on an “average daily membership” basis, meaning the number of students each town sends to the cooperative district determines tuition costs charged to each of the two towns.
The state’s 2012/2013 average for per-student tuition is $15,589.
According to school officials, if all of the (nonpetitioned) School Board and Budget Committee Articles 2-10 pass next month, the end result would be an overall tax rate of $12.45 per thousand dollars, representing an 8 percent increase for Brookline residents.
Hollis Budget Committee Chairman Tom Gehan said he’s “invested a lot of time researching possibilities and has become acutely aware of a risk” associated with the petitioned Article 15.
The end result, he said, would be a $1.40 per thousand increase in property taxes, or about $600 per year for the owner of a typical Hollis home.
The topic was debated heavily this week on the Hollis/Brookline Community Facebook page.
“Sadly, there still exist those in Brookline and Hollis who would like to achieve their objectives by dividing the towns,” wrote Keith Thompson. “The whole story is that when Hollis was sending more students to the co-op, Hollis residents were OK with a different formula. Then the number switched.”
“Right now, Brookline is to the breaking point tax-wise,” Brookline resident Michelle Tutt-Jimeno further noted. “Hollis is not. Personally I think it is in Hollis’ best interest to correct the situation and put it to 50/50.”
If passed, the district would need to appropriate $143,000 next year for the initial interest payment on the construction bond.
A two-thirds ballot vote would be needed for Article 2 to pass.
Town and school officials said that any changes made to the co-op contributions would be locked in place for the following five years, in accordance with state Department of Education rules.
“We need to get as many people at that meeting as possible,” he said. “Everyone’s input is critical.”
The Hollis/Brookline Cooperative School District will hold its annual meeting on Monday, March 3, at Hollis/Brookline High School. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.