JAFFREY — In a unanimous vote, a committee studying the feasibility of Rindge withdrawing from its cooperative school district recommended the town stay put.
The Jaffrey-Rindge district’s Withdrawal Feasibility Study Committee concluded in a reported adopted Thursday that there would be no educational advantage, and, in fact, a “significant financial disadvantage,” to Rindge leaving the district.
According to research presented in the report over a 15-year projection, the cost to Rindge to withdraw from the district would go from $23,693,209 in year 1 to $27,482,255 in year 15, averaging $25,667,584 over the 15 years.
The cost to stay in the district was projected at $13,169,995 in year 1 and $18,608,858 in year 15, averaging $15,744,226 over the 15 years.
The committee — which consisted of selectmen, community members and school district officials — looked at a previous withdrawal study in 2000, building options, education options and financial aspects of withdrawal, among others, according to the report.
In March, Rindge voters easily approved, 620-431, a petition warrant article to study the feasibility of dissolving the Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District.
The petition was submitted by Rindge Selectman Roberta Oeser, who said in January that the goal was to estimate the costs of each town going its own way, versus staying together, to inform discussions of how much each town should pay into the district.
She said if the committee found that Rindge’s withdrawal was financially sound, then Jaffrey officials might come to the table more willing to talk about changing the district’s funding formula. Some Rindge voters felt the town has been “subsidizing” the district’s costs, she said. Oeser later became one of the seven committee members.
In 2018, voters defeated a change to the formula, a result driven by the overwhelming rejection by Jaffrey residents. Rindge residents, on the other hand, voted overwhelmingly to approve the change. The change would have moved the formula to a calculation based 100 percent on student enrollment. Instead, the formula stayed the same, based 50 percent on a town’s student enrollment and 50 percent on a town’s property value.
How multi-town districts divvy up the costs of paying for students’ education has long been a contentious issue in many districts locally and throughout the state.
Since the study committee did not recommend a withdrawal, the members also unanimously voted to dissolve the panel.