The Math of Educational Choice

Barrington School District

Bright Today Scholarships Mean More Money For Barrington Students

For the Barrington school district, RI-DIMES estimates the core scholarship program to produce net fiscal impact of $344,592 under the core scenario with 3,301 public school students who could choose to receive scholarships. For Barrington, RI-DIMES estimates 78 students participating. This will lead to an increase of $201 in per pupil spending for those students remaining in public schools.

As part of the recently launched Bright Today Educational Choice campaign, the nonpartisan Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity has developed the Rhode Island District Impact Model for Educational Scholarships (RI- DIMES), which can project the statewide and district-by-district fiscal impact of the Bright Today Scholarship program.

Featured in the new report, RI- DIMES is a financial modeling tool that will estimate the revenue effect of specific school choice policies. Taking into account the unique demographics of each district — resident income breakdowns, district financials based on the state funding formula, student data, etc. — along with the income-adjusted award schedules of the Bright Today Scholarship Program as presented in the legislation, a projected participation rate and financial impact can be calculated for each district. 

Under the Bright Today Scholarship program (H790 & S607), public schools will be relieved of the associated per student cost burden when parents chose to send their children to private schools, while still maintaining state and local funding.

“Bright Today educational scholarships are a WIN-WIN-WIN situation,” said Mike Stenhouse CEO of the Center, “Students and families win, taxppayers win, and even school districts win.”

The Center is part of a growing coalition, currently comprised of the nationally renowned Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, as well as number of in-state advocacy groups including RI Families for School Choice. The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Rep. Ray Hull, Rep. Mike Chippendale, Sen. Marc Cote, and Sen. Nicholas Kettle. 

Parents or individuals wishing to stay informed about or become involved with the campaign, should register at the RI Families or School Choice website, The Center has also set up an educational choice home page on its website that can be viewed at

The infographic displays the net fiscal impact, in the first year, as defined by the bipartisan Bright Today educational choice legislation currently submitted in both the House and Senate.

Each school district in RI receives a unique mix local, state, and federal revenues (funding) for education. Also, every district has its own mix of variable, semi-fixed, and fixed expenses.

In summary, if the amount of scholarships provided is greater than the cost to educate those students switching to a private educational path, the school district will actually save money. The Bright Today legislation was crafted to achieve this goal.

Working from the top of the infographic down, based on 2012 data, displayed in the:

  • Red area are the projected average and total scholarship amount under both core and grandfather (universal) scenarios*
  • Light blue area is projected participation rate for students in the district, as well as the total number of projected scholarships out of the total number of public school students
  • Green area are the projected before and after scholarship funding available per student remaining in public schools in the district
  • NOTE: all scholarships are paid from the state portion of the district’s funding, with 100% of locally raised tax dollars remaining for local use for education.
  • Bar chart area are the before and after revenue and expense projections after universal scholarships are paid.
  • The darker blue ban are the net fiscal savings under both core and universal (grandfather) scenarios.
  • The light blue area at the bottom are the number of students, residing in the district, who currently attend private schools … AND … the amount of savings the public school district realizes by not having to incur expenses to educate those students. By having more students attend private schools by means of a Bright Today scholarship, school districts will save even more money.
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