Based on FY 2010 data, HWRSD spends approximately $850 per pupil (or 6.3%) more than the average district.  See “HWRSD Spending: Do we want to be average or competitive?”   Since we have approximately 2000 students in the HWRSD, our total above-average spending was $1.7M in FY 2010.   As noted in the “HWRSD Spending” section, we spend about $840 less per pupil than the average of the other 24 districts whose high schools made Boston Magazine’s top 25 list in 2010.  In recent years, some have commented that HWRSD spends $2 to $4M more than comparable districts(without identifying either the districts deemed to be comparable or the fiscal year of the data they are referencing).   Based on the most recent data, even a $2M reduction in spending would put our district below average for the state.

Putting aside the question of how much we should spend, it is useful to understand the impact that a school spending reduction would have on the tax rates in Hamilton and Wenham. Our tax rates are about 30% above the average MA property tax rate, as shown on this chart:

If HWRSD per pupil spending were decreased by $1.7M, the property tax rates in both towns would be reduced by only 4%. Using the FY 2011 tax rates as a starting point, that means:

  • Hamilton tax rate would be $16.23
  • Wenham tax rate would be $16.51

This 4% reduction would translate to annual tax reductions on a $400,000 home of:

  • $304 in Hamilton
  • $265 in Wenham

Greater reductions in school spending would have a proportionate impact on our tax rate.  For example, a $4M reduction in spending in HWRSD (which would take us well below average spending levels) would reduce our tax rates only by 9-10%.

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