Former finance chief calls for Bristol Warren to deregionalize
To the editor:
When regionalization was first proposed I was a staunch supporter. The benefits for the future education of our youth in both the communities of Bristol and Warren certainly were evident after consideration of all the facts. There are some who continue to state that we didn’t get everything we were promised and that is correct; we got more. Time has proven that this was the right decision up until a week ago.
As part of the consideration of regionalization was the known fact that the Town of Warren was having great difficulty in paying for the education of their students. They couldn’t do it then, continue to complain about it year after year, and can’t afford today to pay for it on their own.
One of the main concerns when regionalization was discussed was how to bridge any divide between the students and teachers from separate towns. This was never an issues because they got it: it was one district. The problem always lay at the feet of the some members of government and taxpayers who don’t.
I had the honor and the challenge of being the chairman of the Bristol Warren Regional School Joint Finance Committee for ten years. Knowing the intricate details of funding the district has given me great insight into the process.
There will be some in Warren who will say that Bristol never gave any consideration to their financial woes. When I was chairman of the JFC, I always made it a point to meet legally with a representative of that town to gauge exactly what they thought they could afford and do my best to impart that on the members of the committee. There we many years that Bristol could have afforded to appropriate more education funds but deferred to Warren.
The funding formula proposed in the legislation that created the district was quite clear in regard to each town’s obligations. You took the total cost of education, less any aid to education and other funds received, divided it by the number students and each town paid the appropriate amount they owed depending on how many students were enrolled from their town. Bristol historically has always and correctly paid the most as they had the highest number of students enrolled. That was always the intent.
So here we are so many years into something that worked and the Town of Warren through a legal loop hole is now in practice violating the spirit and intent of that legislation costing the taxpayers of Bristol millions of dollars more. A clever move on their part, but once again is typical of the fact that they don’t get this this is one district, period.
As much as I championed the successes of this district I feel that it is now time that serious consideration be given to deregionalize. I would be more than happy to be on a committee to explore that option.
Let Warren be careful of what they wished for and got.
David E. Barboza
92 Constitution St., Bristol