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RIPEC floats an interesting idea for improving school funding

Statewide student spending total is $18,079 per pupil. Woonsocket and Pawtucket are spending far less on their students.

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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and how am I just learning now that there’s a new “Mighty Ducks” show on Disney+? Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 142,774 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after adding 1,553 new cases since April 9. (Note: The percent positive rate wasn’t published on Tuesday.) The state announced two more deaths, bringing the total to 2,640. There were 137 people in the hospital, and 309,622 residents were fully vaccinated.


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While state leaders are already crafting grand plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal stimulus money, they shouldn’t lose sight of the adjustments that still need to be made to existing programs — especially the education funding formula.

This is wonky, but the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) is out with a new report today analyzing municipal finances in the state, and they found that Woonsocket and Pawtucket rank among the lowest communities in the state when it comes to per-pupil education funding, at $15,372 and $15,646, respectively.

By comparison, the statewide student spending average is $18,079 per pupil.

This isn’t a new stat — state Senator Ryan Pearson’s 2019 review of school funding showed the same thing — but one of RIPEC’s ideas for solving the problem is interesting.


“To guarantee equitable education funding, policymakers will need to further reform the funding formula to ensure that the communities obligated to educate large proportions of low-income students receive sufficient state funding and are required to dedicate appropriate local resources to education,” said RIPEC president and CEO Michael DiBiase.

“Alternatively, for these communities, policymakers should consider having the state assume full financial responsibility for education, with appropriate enhanced state oversight.”

The state already controls Central Falls schools and it recently took over Providence schools, for different reasons. Taking over Central Falls was largely a financial decision whereas Providence was deemed to be in need of a complete overhaul.

It’s unclear whether there will be much of an appetite for giving full financial control of Pawtucket and Woonsocket to the state, especially since the Providence takeover hasn’t gone smoothly. And Governor Dan McKee has been saying for years that the state should return control of Central Falls’ schools to the city.


⚓ My latest column: The new ballpark in Worcester is going to leave Rhode Islanders imagining what we could have had if our leaders showed even a tiny sense of vision. Read more.

Ed Fitzpatrick profiles state Representative David Morales, the 22-year-old lawmaker who has emerged as an advocate for the working class since swinging onto the Rhode Island political scene last year and trouncing the incumbent in a primary. Read more.


⚓ A Rhode Islander who coproduced a movie about the biggest mobbed-up heist in Rhode Island — if not the nation — is now accused of a real-life federal crime: swindling $4.2 million from investors in a Las Vegas show about a male stripper. Read more.

Brian Amaral reports that business owners in Rhode Island say that Governor Dan McKee’s plan to tax a portion of PPP loans could harm small businesses. Read more.

⚓ The Providence Performing Arts Center will launch its 44th Broadway season with “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” followed by a two-week run of “Hamilton.” Read more.

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Health: Many Americans awoke Tuesday to unsettling news about the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine and its possible link to a rare but dangerous blood-clotting disorder. But doctors emphasize that this possible side effect is extremely rare. Read more.

Police: State child welfare investigators believed in 1995 that there was evidence that a child had been abused by Boston Police Officer Patrick M. Rose Sr., raising more questions about how the future union chief was able to keep his badge for another two decades. Read more.

Politics: James Pindell writes that this could be the week where President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill could fall apart. Read more.

Education: Congrats to my colleague Bianca Vázquez Toness, who was awarded the top prize for beat reporting by the Education Writers Association for her work uncovering inequity in Massachusetts school districts. Read more.



Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

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Sabina Matos will be sworn in as lieutenant governor at 8:30 a.m., and she’ll meet with reporters outside the State House at 9:30 a.m.

⚓ The Senate Labor Committee is holding a confirmation hearing at 3 p.m. for Matt Weldon, who is Governor McKee’s nominee to run the Department of Labor and Training.

⚓ The House Finance Committee meets at 4 p.m. to take up several hospital-related articles in the proposed state budget.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.