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.

Here is an overview of the state of school funding in New Hampshire and questions for candidates for office.  Click here for the full ANHPE coverage of the school funding 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.

Highly successful forums in Pittsfield, Derry, Newton, Berlin, Keene, Haverhill (for SAU 23 and northern Grafton County), Canaan (for Mascoma and southern Grafton County), Concord (also hosted by Allenstown and Pembroke), Rochester and Nashua have been completed with hundreds in attendance and many questions answered.  Here are the upcoming events:

Peterborough: 7:00 – 8:30, November 13.  This will be a different format from the School Funding 101 forums.  It’s a “Community Conversation” in Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History & Culture at 19 Grove St. in Peterborough.

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

 

The Legislature’s education funding study committee has issued its final report and it is very interesting

The Committee to Study Education Funding and the Cost of an Opportunity for an Adequate Education established in 2017 has issued its 110 page final report.  Garry Reno has written an informative summary of the findings, available on InDepthNH and Manchester Ink Link.  Here are some highlights.

The eight member committee of six Republicans and two Democrats and chaired by House Finance Division II chair Karen Umberger, has produced an substantial and thoughtful report proposing an increase in education funding and improvements that target low income students and property poor communities. (more…)

Teacher of the Year Heidi Crumrine in the Concord Monitor: “What is a child worth?”

New Hampshire’s 2018 Teacher of the Year makes an eloquent plea in today’s Concord Monitor for giving all New Hampshire children a fair shot.  She brings her powerful insights as a classroom teacher and leader together with the powerful data from attorneys John Tobin and Andy Volinsky and analyst Doug Hall to make a powerful case that “We are systemically setting our most disadvantaged students up for failure before they even become adults.”  She urges us to realize that, yes, it’s about the money, but it’s really about the future of our children.

Read Heidi Crumrine’s call to action: (more…)

Big differences on education funding and school choice surface in Sullivan County House races

The Valley News featured education funding in its thorough review of the the Sullivan 1 and Sullivan 9 House races.

The incumbent members of the House, Democrats Linda Tanner (Georges Mills), Lee Oxenham (Plainfield) and Brian Sullivan (Grantham) are strong supporters of public education who opposed SB 193, the statewide private school voucher bill defeated in the last Legislature, and seek ways to improve the education funding formula.

Two of their opponents, Plainfield Republican candidates Virginia Drye and her mother Margaret, take the position that only those families who use the public school system should pay for it.  Candidate Drye and Grantham Republican Tanya McIntire both think the “Croydon bill” should be expanded.

Here are excerpts from the Valley News report: (more…)

Valley News Editorial: N.H. Has the Cash, and Its Schools Need Help

Here are highlights from the Valley News editorial on the school funding challenge:

In the course of crowing the other day about the state of New Hampshire’s economy, Gov. Chris Sununu said, “One of the problems we have right now at the state is we have more money than we know what to do with. We literally have a $150 million surplus.”…

In light of all this rosiness, it’s reasonable to ask why New Hampshire continues to shortchange its public schools and the many property-poor communities that struggle to pay for them.

(more…)

Franklin Candidate forum to address school funding crisis at 6:00 on October 24th at the Franklin Opera House

The Laconia Daily Sun teed up the candidate forum on school funding by providing detailed reporting on how the reduction in stabilization aid impacts local communities:

Candidates seeking to represent Franklin and Northfield in the state legislature will address New Hampshire’s school funding crisis at a forum on Oct. 24. The forum will be held at the Franklin Opera House, 316 Central St., from 6-8 p.m. State Senate candidates and all House candidates for Merrimack County Districts 2, 3 and 26 have been invited to attend.

The funding crisis is the result of reductions voted in by the state legislature. “In 2015 the legislature voted to gradually eliminate education stabilization grants at a rate of four percent per year, with the goal of total elimination by 2037,” said Northfield Town Administrator Glenn Smith.

“As a result of legislative action Northfield loses almost $100,000 per year in state aid to education,” reports Selectboard Chair Wayne Crowley.

(more…)

Candidates in the ConVal area campaign on their commitment to public education!

saying….”Strong Public Schools are the backbone of our Democracy…..”

School Funding Ad 1

“Suncook Valley Supports Equity in Education” puts school funding fairness on the campaign agenda

Suncook Valley Supports Equity in Education asked their candidates four key school funding questions:
  • What will you do to ensure that NH updates its adequacy grants to realistic levels?
  • What will you do to make school property taxes fair and equal across the state?
  • As an immediate measure, would you support a moratorium on cuts to stabilization aid?
  • If you are in favor of a constitutional amendment on school funding, what would such an amendment say?

The Suncook Valley group is one of a growing number of community groups formed in response to the School Funding 101 forums that attorneys Andy Volinsky and John Tobin have been holding in communities throughout New Hampshire.  Here is the ambitious initiative taken by the ConVal communities, which has already been emulated in Newport and other communities, including Monadnock, Keene, and Claremont.

SVSEE got important and informative answers, published on their Facebook page and in the Suncook Valley Sun, which covers Barnstead, Chichester, Epsom, Gilmington, Northwood and Pittsfield. (more…)

Listen the John Tobin and Karen Hatcher on how to mobilize for school funding fairness

After the School Funding 101 forum September 20th in Keene, Mike Danielli, of the Monadnock Broadcasting Group, interviewed attorney John Tobin and Peterborough selectboard member Karen Hatcher about the school funding fairness issue and, especially, the work Karen is doing to give communities across the State a clear way to take action and be heard.

Here’s the interview.  It’s very much worth a listen to be inspired by Karen’s energy and passion about the issue: (more…)

NHBR: The other New Hampshire – The state of the state’s 19 largest ‘property-poor’ communities

Zip code is destiny for New Hampshire’s children.  We have a school funding system that leaves New Hampshire communities on their own to raise whatever they can on local property taxes.

Now, the New Hampshire Business Review has taken has provided a detailed analysis of the fiscal plight of our property poor communities as they try to come up with the money to pay for their schools.  Author Michael Kitch zeros in on the 19 most property-poor cities and towns with populations greater than 1,000 people – here is a map.  He captures their plight in his opening paragraph:

In Claremont, the property tax rate is $42.66 per $1,000 of valuation – the highest in the state. Households earn a median income of $47,555, less than 70 percent of the statewide median. More than one in 10 residents live in poverty, one in five receive food stamps and more than one in four are enrolled in Medicaid.

(more…)

Add your voice to ConVal’s! Let your candidates know how important school funding fairness is to students, parents, property tax payers and local elected officials.

Inspired by the School Funding 101 forums, the communities making up the Conval School District (Antrim, Bennington, Dublin, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough, Sharon and Temple) have organized in a way that may be an inspiration to many other New Hampshire communities.

Spearheaded by Peterborough selectboard member Karen Hatcher, the leadership of the 9 communities have composed an impressively well researched and written letter to their elected officials and candidates.  Signed by all of the ConVal school board members and authorized representatives of the nine Town Select Boards, the letter has been sent to all of their current elected officials and the candidates running for office this November in our local districts and at the state level.

The letter persuasively makes the case that we must raise the issue of funding our public schools to a top priority this election season and in the subsequent legislative session.  The ConVal letter is posted here, below, for easy copy and paste.  If you would rather work from a Word template, you can download this one that Karen has created.  Finally, Karen has provided a one page call for a statewide movement for education funding fairness and an oped that will run soon in the Monadnock Ledger and could serve as a starting point for others concerned about school funding fairness. (more…)