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- Scotland Congregational Church
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- St. Margaret Catholic Church
- Selectman's Corner
Town of Scotland
The controversies about Regional District 11 have been festering for far too long. They've pitted neighbor against neighbor and town against town, and they don't reflect well on Scotland. Just the other night, at a meeting in another town held to discuss possible consolidation of services, an official told me he was reluctant to deal with our town because "Scotland can't get along with anyone."
But the arguments are also inevitable, as Parish Hill, for all its virtues, is very expensive, and the taxpayers of Scotland, the smallest town in the district and the one with the smallest grand list, pay more toward its $6.4 million budget than either of the other towns in the district. That's because we happen to have more students in the district than the other towns, and regional schools are funded on a per-student basis, rather than having their costs distributed equally among taxpayers, as is the case with local schools.
We can try harder to be kind to and understanding of each other. I personally would like that a lot. But so long as our only alternatives are the status quo or dissolution of the district, the kinds of argument we've suffered through are bound to occur again and again. We are not going to solve this problem ourselves, at least not without further discord. We need the help of the state officials and legislators in charge of the system that determines how school districts are funded.
There are many ways to make this situation better, and the legislature is likely to consider only one of them this term: a proposal that makes it possible for districts to dissolve even if all the towns in them do not vote for dissolution. It's a proposal that will likely lead to another dissolution battle.
Other possibilities hold the prospect of keeping the district alive while making it significantly less costly for the town. One of them is a proposal to use a five-year average of the school population from each town to calculate the town's contribution. The recent steep increases in our RD11 costs have been directly the result of sharp changes in that population. These spikes would be smoothed out under this proposal.
Another proposal is to fund the district on per capita basis, so that the larger towns pay a larger share of the costs, regardless of how many students attend the school. That would also reduce the spikes in cost, and it has the added benefit of making common sense. If RD11 were funded this way, our costs would be reduced by $500,000 in this fiscal year--a nearly 5 mill difference in our tax rate. (Here's the math: Divide the total budget by the number of people in the district, and multiply by the number in each town. $6.4 million/5700 people = $1122/person. $1122 x 1700 Scotland residents = $1.9 million. We are currently paying over $2.4 million.)
Only the state legislature can make this change. They will only make it if our legislators propose it. And they will only propose it if their constituents demand it. To that end, I've written up a petition. It's available in Town Hall and online at http://chng.it/8N8kFjvg . Please consider signing it. It's the only way we will be heard.