PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today launched the state's first formal review of the state's education funding formula in an effort to achieve better outcomes for our students, educators and taxpayers.
As part of this work, she signed an executive order appointing a working group to examine whether the formula is working as intended with a particular focus on funding for students with special needs, for English learners, for career-technical education, and for charter public schools.
"A significant part of jumpstarting our economy and creating opportunity for everyone is making sure our kids have access to the best education," Raimondo said. "Rhode Island has a strong formula and it is model for other states. However all key public policies benefit from regular review. After five years, it is time to for a fresh look to review our education funding structure."
Rhode Island's education funding formula, signed into law five years ago, allocates state aid to public schools based on student enrollment, student poverty levels, and community wealth. The legislation that established the funding formula called for regular review.
"With this working group, we will begin to shift our conversation away from school budget line items and toward school investment," continued Raimondo. "We need to shift our focus to our schools, the front lines, where the magic happens. Over time, if we can spend our education dollars more wisely, our families may also benefit from property tax relief."
"We are committed to developing options and opportunities for students and families, and to do so we need to provide resources and support for teaching and learning," said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "I thank Governor Raimondo for her focus on education, innovation, and workforce development. I am confident that the Working Group she has established will come up with proposals to make education funding in Rhode Island more equitable, more responsive to local needs, and more supportive of great teaching and learning."
Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, and Donald R. Sweitzer, Chairman of IGT Corporation, will co-chair the Working Group.
"At Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, we are committed to improving the health, safety, education, economic well-being and development of Rhode Island's children, said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Co-Chair of the Working Group. "I am honored to co-chair this Working Group, since we need to be sure we are using education dollars wisely to ensure positive outcomes because our kids are depending on us."
"It is wonderful that Governor Raimondo is prioritizing this review of the funding formula to see if we can make it even better for all Rhode Islanders, especially our kids," said Don Sweitzer, Chairman of IGT Corporation. "We need to do all we can to ensure our education system is strong enough to prepare our students for college and for the jobs of the 21st Century."
Dr. Kenneth K. Wong, Chairman of the Education Department at Brown University, will advise the group. The group will provide the Governor with a draft report of its initial findings and recommendations by January 1. In order to engage the public and to ensure transparency, the group will meet in public session at locations across Rhode Island.
The Governor has asked the Working Group to explore several themes:
Fairness across school types: Our funding formula must be fair and supported by data.
Flexibility and sufficiency: Our funding formula must enable prudent and sustainable flexibility at the district, school, and student levels.
Responsiveness to unique needs: Our families, communities, and schools have unique needs, and the funding formula needs to account for and accommodate these unique needs.
Fiscal responsibility: Our funding formula needs to direct resources to the areas in which they are needed most and the funding formula must encourage savings and efficiency whenever possible
Improved Outcomes: Our funding formula needs to invest these resources wisely to ensure improved outcomes.
The members of the Working Group include:
Elizabeth Burke Bryant (Co-Chair), executive director, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
Donald R. Sweitzer (Co-Chair), Chairman, IGT Corporation and Senior Public Affairs Advisor
Rep. Gregg Amore, House Education Committee, East Providence
Donato Bianco, LIUNA
Dr. Nancy Carriuolo, President, Rhode Island College
J. Michael D'Antuono, School Business Official, Providence
Sen. Daniel Da Ponte, Senate Finance Committee, East Providence
Karen Davis, Senior Vice-President, Hasbro
Kas R. DeCarvalho, Esq., Attorney, Pannone Lopes, and Board Member, The Met School
Patti DiCenso, Superintendent, Pawtucket
Sean Doyle, Technical Education Teacher, West Warwick High School
Dr. Gara B. Field, Principal, Pleasant View Elementary School, Providence
Georgia Fortunato, Superintendent, Lincoln
Victoria A. Gailliard-Garrick, Principal, William M. Davies, Jr. Career and Technical High School
Jo Eva Gaines, Chair, Newport School Committee, and member, Council on Elementary and Secondary Education
Sen. Hanna Gallo, Senate Education Committee, Cranston
Stephanie Gonzalez, Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy and member, Central Falls City Council
Joseph J. MarcAurele, Chairman, Washington Trust Bank
Amy Mullen, Special Education Teacher, Tiverton
Dr. Julie Nora, Head of School, International Charter School
Stephanie Ogidan Preston, Vice-President, Citizens Bank
Adam M. Ramos, Esq., Attorney, Hinckley Allen, and member of the Bristol Warren Education Foundation
Dr. Isadore S. Ramos, former Mayor of East Providence
Rep. Deborah L. Ruggiero, House Finance Committee, Jamestown
Toby Shepherd, Grants Program Officer, the Rhode Island Foundation
Alan J. Tenreiro, Principal, Cumberland High School and National Principal of the Year
Lisa Tomasso, the Providence Center and member of RIDE Strategic Planning Group
James Vincent, President, NAACP-Providence
Dr. Kenneth K. Wong (Advisor), Chair, Department of Education, Brown University
Please see below for a link to the Executive Order.