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Median Income
Option Introduction


Rationale for
the Median
Income Option


Methodology and
Formula for
Computing the
Median Income


Analysis of Widely
Held Assumptions
about Nonresident


Town-by-Town Spreadsheet



on Education 

A Proposal for
Fair and Equitable
of State
Education Aid

When School 
Expenses Rise, 
by Allen Larson

on Housing 



A Proposal for Fair and Equitable Distribution 
of State Education Aid, Giving Equal Weight to the 
Two Main Indicators of Ability to Pay: 
Property Values and Median Income


Representative Demetrius J. Atsalis

2nd Barnstable District


October 2003




If there is one thing that has become perfectly clear over the past 10 years about the state’s property valuesbased Chapter 70 formula, it is this:

               One size does not fit all.

        There are two main measures of a community’s wealth or “ability to pay” for local education:  income and property.  As such, these measures should be given equal weight in calculating any state aid distribution formula.  A formula based on only one measure of wealth will never produce a fair and accurate gauge of every community’s ability to pay.  There are unique regional demographics and economic factors in the Commonwealth that make it impossible.  The history of the Education Reform Act formula has shown this to be true. Ten years of unsuccessful tinkering, unproductive recriminations, and unending lawsuits can’t be wrong.

        Indeed, if anyone tried to write one all-encompassing formula based mainly on  one measure of wealth, the result would be a complicated, arcane mess that would create a “winners-and-losers” scenario pitting town against town in a Darwinian grab for precious school funds.  Sound familiar?  The last two governors, the Department of Education (DOE), and the Legislature have all acknowledged this failure by introducing alternative formulas that attempt to mitigate the original formula’s harmful effects. 

        Therefore, in acknowledging the failure of one formula to fit all, I am proposing a median incomebased “option” formula that borrows methodology from the current formula as well as the alternative formulas. 

               The basic idea:  A town would have the option of
               receiving the higher amount between the current 
               (and likely future) property values–based formula or
               the median income formula.

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