Advancing New Hampshire Public Education

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Come to a School Funding 101 Forum

“The current state funding system allows for children in school districts with more valuable real estate to benefit from higher per-pupil spending, while their parents pay property taxes at much lower rates.” – Attorney John Tobin

Students and taxpayers in property poor towns do not get their fair share of limited education funding in New Hampshire. The Claremont lawsuits that challenged the state’s school funding mechanism were intended to remedy that but, as we know, the inequities remain.  In fact, after an initial improvement, the tax burden on property poor towns has returned to about what it was before the lawsuit.

Executive Councilor Andy Volinsky and retired head of New Hampshire Legal Assistance John Tobin, , two of the Claremont attorneys, are traveling the State holding forums in which they educate citizens and local leadership about how the combination of, primarily, local property taxes, with a little additional state and federal funding school funding finances our schools.  They make the funding system as it exists today understandable and show how it is not fair to New Hampshire’s property poor towns and taxpayers.  Here’s a news report on the their highly successful June forum in Pittsfield.

Click here for more background on the issue.

Andy and John’s “School Funding 101” forums are a great opportunity to understand New Hampshire school funding and discuss with with fellow citizens and two of the most knowledgeable and clear education funding experts in the State.

Derry: 6:30 PM, August 20, at the Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, 5 Hood Rd, Derry, NH 03038

Berlin: 6:00 PM, September 6, at at Hillside Elementary, 183 Hillside Ave, Berlin, NH 03570

We’ll post additional forums here as they are scheduled.  To hold a forum in your community, click here.

Eagle Times: They offer a class in school funding and 150 people show up

The school funding and local property tax debate came to Newton Tuesday night when the Volinsky/Tobin team brought the next edition of their School Funding 101 to a large and engaged audience.  Here are highlights from the Eagle Times take on the presentation:

NEWPORT — Two architects of a ground-breaking lawsuit that Claremont school district won against the state of New Hampshire presented “Education Funding 101” to the taxpaying public Tuesday night. School funding is in a crisis, they said, and it is going to get worse if no one acts.

John Tobin and Andru Volinsky, attorneys who worked on a lawsuit known as Claremont v. Governor of New Hampshire, which was begun in the 1980s, said the state has never met the settlement requirements and school funding is worse than ever.

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Valley News: N.H. School Funding Is Up For Discussion

If the topic is education, the Valley News is there.  They just did a piece on the upcoming School Funding 101 forum that Andy Volinsky and John Tobin will do in Newport on August 14:

Newport — A public forum on the current status of education funding in New Hampshire and its continued heavy reliance on property taxes will be led next week by the former lead attorney in the Claremont lawsuit.

Andru Volinsky, currently an executive councilor, and John Tobin, an attorney, will lead the discussion at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14 Newport’s Richards Elementary School.

Newport is expected to be joined at the forum by school boards from Claremont, Unity and the Fall Mountain Regional School District.

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Mary Wilke in the Concord Monitor: Fair education funding will solve ‘ZIP code problem’

In her oped for today’s Concord Monitor, Mary Wilke points out that voucher proposals, viewed alongside other education funding proposals, do not hold up to scrutiny.

John Adams said, “There should not be a district of one mile square without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.”

If you agree with our Founding Fathers that a vibrant democracy depends on a strong public education system, then please take notice: Our public schools are under attack. Gov. Chris Sununu, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and their legislative allies are gearing up to ram another school voucher bill through the next legislative session.

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Do we have the education leadership we need in New Hampshire?

What do you do with a Commissioner who talks about our schools only in terms of failure and whose education strategy for the future is private school vouchers?

Leading a large education system is a complex undertaking. It takes real…well…leadership. Is there another Commissioner in the country with such a rhetoric of failure? An education leader would normally convene parents and educators seeking engagement around a vision for what is possible. If math achievement is low, what’s our strategy? If our schools could do more to reach students with special needs, how do we support their efforts to do that? (more…)

Education funding constitutional amendment: here’s what happened last time

The last attempt was in 2012, the second session of the O’Brien legislature.  It failed in a big way.  You can dig into all the detail here.  But post mortem by Kevin Landrigan, then with the Nashua Telegraph, “Legislature’s power figures took it on the chin with education funding vote”, is the best political overview.  The over-all themes are still very relevant: (more…)

An important BIA statement supporting a constitutional amendment to allow targeting of education funding

The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce (BIA) is a strong supporter of New Hampshire Public Education. The rational is to build the workforce so critical to the future of New Hampshire, its businesses and its families. But the BIA’s engagement goes deep, bringing business and schools together, and supporting important legislative and local initiatives.

So the BIA statement, written by senior vice president/public policy David Juvet, on amending the provision of the New Hampshire Constitution that guarantees each child the opportunity for an adequate education is important.  Here, with our commentary, is the statement, printed in a recent Union Leader Sunday News: (more…)

Governor Sununu wants to take courts out of education funding

The NH Supreme Court protects citizens, businesses, government and students in New Hampshire.  Governor Sununu has proposed that students be eliminated from that list, leaving  education funding levels entirely up to the Legislature.  Here, in a recent Seacoast Online report is how he makes the argument: (more…)

New Hampshire Business Review asks: “Is it time for Claremont III?”

This piece ran on June 7th in the NHBR news section but it’s more like a well reported editorial on the dire financial crisis New Hampshire’s property poor school districts face as a result of our apparently unconstitutional system of school funding that results in an unequal and unfair burden on local property tax payers.  Here are some highlights: (more…)

Here’s what school funding looks like in the Upper Valley

Our schools have the same problem finding qualified staff that our business do.  The difference is that there’s a hard cap on what they can offer.  Here’s a great piece on the day-to-day impact of the school funding issue in rural New Hampshire, from the Valley News, which consistently provides great coverage on how statewide education issues impact their communities: (more…)