5 districts form group to address education funding, issues

State Senator Ryan Pearson (D-Cumberland) Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (AP) – Several Rhode Island school districts have banded together to address education challenges.

Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Newport, Central Falls and East Providence announced their coalition Monday at a forum at Bryant University in Smithfield.

The Providence Journal reports the Urban Education Coalition’s goals are to address inequities in the state education funding formula and share expertise on issues like absenteeism.

Democratic Sen. Ryan Pearson, of Cumberland, leads a legislative task force studying the funding formula.

He says some municipalities aren’t distributing the necessary share of tax dollars to education which is contributing to the inequities.

Roughly $10,000 per pupil is needed to meet basic education needs, but Woonsocket, for example, falls more than $2,000 below that threshold.

Pearson and others say charter schools siphon funds away from traditional school districts.