Financing Public Education in Rhode Island
LWV RI position

Here is the consensus position the Rhode Island League of Women Voters accomplished after two years of study led by Mickie Bonneau. Thanks to all who contributed time and thought to studying the issue, developing consensus questions, considering them, and writing up the final results. We now have a basis from which to speak to our legislators on the subject of financing public education in Rhode Island.

The League of Women Voters of Rhode Island believes that any method of financing public education should provide equality of opportunity for education through a system of taxation that is sufficient, equitable, flexible and coordinated among the different levels of government.

The LWVRI believes further that the best way to fund education in Rhode Island is to divide the cost between the state and the cities and towns. The state's total share of the funding of core instructional costs should be at least 50%. In determining the share that will be distributed to each city and town, the state should use a transparent formula that provides equitable funding for Rhode Island's school children and that takes into account community wealth and student poverty level.

The state share of funding for public schools under a formula should be used for core instructional costs to include school personnel salaries, books and supplies, the cost of operating facilities, and teacher development. No state funds should be used to offset the cost of teacher and employee health benefit costs because these benefits are negotiated at the local level.

The League believes that the enrollment number should be averaged over a year. The League recognizes that students have different needs. To provide equality of opportunity, low income student enrollment should be given additional weight. The League supports using eligibility for the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program (FRPLP) as a measure of poverty level and student need. The League recommends that the use of poverty as an indicator of student need be reassessed over time to assure that it does indeed reflect the requirements of the ESL (English as a second language) and other special needs student populations in an equitable manner.

When funding a regional school district, the state should determine its share by calculating the wealth and enrollment of each participating town separately and assess each city and town's per pupil's share accordingly. The funding should follow the student.

The League does not support a hold harmless position in any funding formula.

Finally, the League believes that when funding charter schools in Rhode Island, the funding should follow the student.

Education Study Materials

School Finance


Equality of Opportunity
LWV US position

Statement of Position on Equality of Opportunity, as Revised by the National Board in January 1989, based on Positions Announced by the National Board in January 1969, Adopted by the 1972 Convention and Expanded by the 1980 Convention.

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the federal government shares with other levels of government the responsibility to provide equality of opportunity for education, employment and housing for all persons in the United States regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation or disability. Employment opportunities in modern, technological societies are closely related to education; therefore, the League supports federal programs to increase the education and training of disadvantaged people. The League supports federal efforts to prevent and/or remove discrimination in education, employment and housing and to help communities bring about racial integration of their school systems.

League Principles

The League of Women Voters believes that every citizen should be protected in the right to vote; that every person should have access to free public education that provides equal opportunity for all; and that no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination.

The League of Women Voters believes that efficient and economical government requires competent personnel, the clear assignment of responsibility, adequate financing, and coordination among the different agencies and levels of government.

The League of Women Voters believes that responsible government should be responsive to the will of the people; that government should maintain an equitable and flexible system of taxation, promote the conservation and development of natural resources in the public interest, share in the solution of economic and social problems that affect the general welfare, promote a sound economy and adopt domestic policies that facilitate the solution of international problems.


Revised: 05/17/11


The League neither supports nor opposes candidates for office at any level of government.

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