Hollis reader supports paying per pupil

To the Editor:

I am a huge advocate of Hollis schools and the co-op. I support more investment in our school facilities and our school budgets.

I am hearing that the Hollis Brookline Co-operative School Board plans to put an article on the warrant for the March elections seeking a reapportionment of the way the co-op is funded. From my understanding, Hollis will be paying more and the formula will not be 100 percent based upon cost per student multiplied by enrollment.

If we all go to Dunkin’ Donuts and order a coffee, the price should be the same regardless of whether we live in Hollis or Brookline. Where the money to buy the coffee comes from is irrelevant to the price of the same coffee to a customer.

I look at the co-op in the same way. The tuition we get is the cup of coffee. The number of cups of coffee we need for our town depends on the number of students who want the cup of coffee; i.e., who will be sent to the HBMS and HBHS schools. Each town should simply pay the cost per student multiplied by the number of students.

I do understand that Brookline taxpayers feel that they are paying more than those in Hollis because they look at dollars per thousand of valuation on their tax bill. Unfortunately, this is not a true comparison. You cannot compare a $300,000 home in Hollis to a $300,000 home in Brookline. You need to use the average home cost in each town for any comparison.

Furthermore, your tax rate depends on several components, your tax base (aggregate value of all properties in the town), cost of your municipal services and the elementary schools.

The tax base of Hollis is higher than Brookline. And after you divide all the expenses by the tax base, the actual tax rate in Hollis works out to be lower than that in Brookline. That is just a fact of life. This discrepancy is already addressed in the state adequate education grant that lowers the tax rate in Brookline more than it would be otherwise.

The average house in Hollis costs $100,000 more than a house in Brookline. You pay more in Hollis on your mortgage, and per my rough calculations, it can take 10-15 years to catch up the delta in the home cost on a typical mortgage.

By asking Hollis to pay more than the cost per student is in my humble opinion tantamount to socialism. You are asking those who spent more to buy a home in a community with a larger tax base to subsidize the education of those who chose to buy a less expensive home in a community with a smaller tax base. It is morally reprehensible and corrupt to expect anyone to pay more for the same cup of coffee just because they live in a different town.

I am a huge supporter of the co-op and the economies of scale that the two small towns of Hollis and Brookline can achieve working together than apart. I know we are stronger together and it will cost much more for each town to have their own schools. But it is not the job of Hollis taxpayers to fix the tax rate in Brookline and I don’t support “wealth distribution” socialist ideas just because the tax rates aren’t the same.

If I see anything on the ballot other than a formula 100 percent based on enrollment, then this pro-school voter plans to vote no. And if the co-op has to come to an end, then so be it.

David Sacks