Rhode Island Lawsuit Will Be Resumed

Last Updated: April 27, 2011

This article appeared in the April 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

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The school funding lawsuit in Rhode Island will continue despite the passage of the new school finance formula. (See previous coverage from RSFN here and here.) Attorneys for plaintiff districts Woonsocket and Pawtucket had agreed to delay the suit until after the formula was finalized and implemented. But earlier this month, they filed an amended complaint moving the suit forward.

In 2007, an adequacy study estimated the amount needed to cover base student cost to be $10,700 before weighting for unique student factors. Funding levels under the new formula will be approximately 25% lower than that amount.

Another issue for the plaintiff districts is that the formula does not take into account needed funding for the districts’ English Language Learners (ELL) and special education students. Consultants who helped develop the formula have said that data on special education and ELL students is unreliable. Instead, they opted to include only a poverty weight to address “overlapping” needs.

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Read more from the April 2011 Rural Policy Matters.