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 and Berlin have been complete with hundreds in attendance and many questions answered.  Here are the upcoming events:

Keene: 6:00 PM, September 20 at Keene Middle School, 167 Maple Ave, Keene.  The forum is sponsored by, in addition to Keene, the Monadnock, Chesterfield, Westmoreland, Nelson, Marlow, Harrisville, Marlborough, Jaffrey, Rindge, Winchester, ConVal, and Wilton/Lyndeborough school districts.

Rochester: 6:00 PM, October 10 at Spalding High School, 130 Wakefield St, Rochester.

Concord: 6:00 PM, October 18 at Concord High Auditorium, 170 Warren St., Concord.  This will be a regional event with other sponsors to be announced.

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

Andy Volinsky to 150 people at the Berlin school funding forum: “We’re trying to build a movement!”

The School Funding 101 forum last week was a great success.  Below is the report from the Berlin Sun.  It’s particularly good because it concisely lays out John Tobin’s and Andy Voliinsky’s case for change and strategy for bringing it about:

“We’re trying to build a movement,” Attorney Andru Volinsky told the crowd of about 150 that attended last Thursday’s forum on reforming the state’s school funding system.

Volinsky and Attorney John Tobin are participating in similar forums across the state to create political pressure to make the legislature act to address what the two lawyers call a crisis in education funding. The two were part of the legal team that took the state to court in the 1990’s to establish its responsibility to provide an adequate education for all youth

The Berlin school board and city council hosted the forum at the Berlin Middle School auditorium and invited municipal and school officials from across the North Country. Many local school officials were wearing tee shirts with the logo “SOS – Save Our Schools” – Solve Education Funding Now.


Union Leader: City teachers become digital panhandlers

The Union Leader gave front page coverage today to a Mark Hayward’s weekly column,, this week about the efforts of Manchester teachers to make up for the severe budget constraints in the city’s schools.  Here are some highlights:

You’re a teacher in the community that spends less on education than any other in the state, save one.

So what do you do if you need a different chair to keep a fidgety student engaged? Or a special handwriting workbook? Or an iPad to help students with independent study?

You beg.


NHPR features Attorney John Tobin discussing the impact of NH’s school funding formula on property tax payers and property poor communities

NHPR interviewed attorney John Tobin about what has emerged as a key issue in the current election campaign at the state level – school funding.  Many candidates for office at all levels are focusing on education in a way we haven’t seen before and John’s and Andy Volinsky’s School Funding 101 forums have been instrumental in enabling voters to ask informed questions about the issue.

Here are highlights from the NHPR interview with attorney Tobin: (more…)

Holderness candidate for the NH House Sallie Fellows says, “Education funding will be the top state issue in 2019”

Ms. Fellows, a retired NHDOE staffer, attended the Newport School Funding 101 forum and explains the school funding issue in her letter to the Laconia Daily Sun:

Paying for public schools has become a crisis situation for many school districts. It is an issue the next Governor and Legislature must address in 2019.

Earlier this month, a large crowd gathered in Newport to listen to lawyers who successfully sued the state over education funding in the 1990s. They explained how the State is ignoring its obligation to pay for an “adequate” education and how this impacts property poor towns like Newport. That town has cut staff and asked teachers to cover classes they are not certified to teach.


Claudia Damon urges Concord Monitor readers to “Vote for education”

Ms. Damon summarizes the case concisely.  And for those wanting to follow up on her advice, here are some questions our candidates should answer for voters.

Ms. Damon’s brief letter:

How about that Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut? Chris Sununu appointed him although he knew nothing about N.H. public education, not even from his personal experience.

He says public schools are failing. Not true. He wants vouchers paid from public school funds, but the vouchers help only the wealthy. Vouchers will cover a small portion of private education costs. Only wealthy people can make up the difference.


It’s time to hold candidates accountable for inadequate school funding and high property taxes

School funding is one of the most important issues facing New Hampshire and is emerging as the key issue in the fall campaign and for the next Legislature.  Voters should know where the candidates stand.

Here is a brief overview of the issue and the key questions you can put to candidates.  Attend a School Funding 101 forum to get the whole story.

The New Hampshire Constitution

The NH Constitution sets two core requirements for K-12 public education:

  • The State has a duty to pay for the cost of a “constitutionally adequate education for every K-12 public school student;
  • The taxes that the State uses to pay for this education must have a uniform rate across the state.


Eagle-Tribune: Majority of the cost of education is paid through local property taxes and varies widely town to town

Here are highlights from the Eagle-Tribune coverage of the popular School Funding 101 forum executive councilor Andru Volinsky and attorney John Tobin presented in Derry recently:

Budgets, taxes and how to give students the best education possible were all topics of a recent forum aimed at issues dealing with how the state supports its schools.

Attorneys Andru Volinsky and John Tobin were guest speakers for an educational funding forum held recently at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School….

Derry residents approved a $82 million school budget at the polls in March, but the district has seen its school adequacy numbers fall in recent years.

Derry’s combined 2017 tax rate is $28.86, but the town has less property value that can be taxed, compared to a community like Londonderry where economic development and big industry supports the town’s financial structure and tax base.

“Derry’s taxes are high, but you have less to tax,” Tobin said. “The system makes you run harder and generate less.”


Frank Sprague in the Valley News: Movement Builds to Reform School Funding in New Hampshire

It is widely understood that the State of New Hampshire does not fulfill its constitutional obligation to support an “adequate” education for its children. As a result, the burden falls on local property tax payers, especially those in property-poor towns.

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky and retired New Hampshire Legal Assistance attorney John Tobin, key attorneys in the Claremont decisions have been traveling the State bringing school funding into focus for citizens and elected officials.

Now a movement has begun building that is making school funding a significant issue in the fall campaign and in the 2019 legislative session.  Claremont school board chair Frank Sprague wrote about it in yesterday’s Valley News and suggested questions for candidates (Here’s a video of the Newport forum Mr. Sprague discusses below): (more…)

Scott Marion: “Dan Innis is Playing Fast and Loose With the Facts”

Scott Marion, of Rye, is the executive director of the Center for Assessment, a nationally respected Dover nonprofit helping state develop education policy.  Here is his response to Sen. Dan Innis’ recent statement supporting an expanded private school voucher program:

In his August 28th op-ed, Dan Innis likes to appear like a scholarly professor in his defense of school choice, but his selective use of “research” is anything but scholarly. First, Mr. Innis erroneously cites a 40-60 percent remedial education rate. As a national expert in educational assessment and accountability working in more than 35 states, I can tell you firsthand that those figures are wildly inflated. Mr. Innis should look closer to home where our NH community and technical colleges have done a terrific job in reducing remedial education challenges. In fact, a 2016 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center study, noted that New Hampshire four-year public colleges have the second highest college completion rates in the nation: 90.2 percent of full time students who started at one of New Hampshire’s four-year public colleges completed their studies within six years—the standard metric. That sounds pretty good to me!


House candidate Tom Loughman responds to Sen. Innis on school vouchers: “More spending, higher taxes, less opportunity”

Tom Loughman is a serious, high-energy candidate for the New Hampshire House from Hampton.  He’s been tuned in to education issues and testified against SB 193 in the last legislative session.

And he shot right back when Sen. Dan Innis began advocating for an expanded voucher proposal.  Here’s is Mr. Loughman’s authoritative response in today’s Seacoast Media papers. (more…)