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Statement of the NH SCHOOL FUNDING FAIRNESS PROJECT on the ConVal court decision

The Cheshire County Superior Court has denied the request for a preliminary injunction in the legal case filed by ConVal School District and joined by several other school districts. We agree with the goal of the ConVal lawsuit: requiring the state to comply with its constitutional responsibility to provide students across NH with an opportunity for an adequate education supported by taxes that are reasonable and proportional. And we share their frustration about the State’s failure to live up to this duty over the past two decades.

For nearly one year we have been working in good faith with large groups of legislators, school districts, and community leaders from across the state to produce a legislative approach during the current legislative session that will immediately address the worst inequities in the current system, and in the long term result in fair and full funding of our public schools. There are multiple bills in both House and Senate which would begin to achieve these goals.

Like ConVal, we also want to see the State make an honest calculation of what is the true cost of an adequate education. We support legislation to create an independent Commission to do just that.

It is up to the Legislature and the Governor to act responsibly and expeditiously to address school funding during this legislative session. If they do not do so, many school districts, property taxpayers, and parents may turn to the courts to try to bring the State into compliance with its constitutional obligations.

For further information, please contact:

John Tobin at 603-568-0735 or jtobinjr@comcast.net, or

Doug Hall at 603-229-2598 or doughallnh@comcast.net

More School Funding 101 Forums announced

ANHPE readers are well familiar with the School Funding 101 forums being held to rave reviews throughout the State.  Requests continue to flow in from school districts and communities but also Rotary clubs and many other civic groups.  The NH School Funding Fairness Project will continue to hold forums and advocate for equity.  If your group would like to hold a forum, click here.

Here are the next scheduled forums:

Portsmouth: Tuesday, April 16, at 6:00 p.m. at Portsmouth High School, 50 Andrew Jarvis Drive, Portsmouth, NH 03801

New Durham: Wednesday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the New Durham Public Library, 20 Old Bay Road, New Durham, NH 

Plaistow:  April 22 at 6:00 p.m. at Timberlane Performing Arts Center, 36 Greenough Rd (between the High School and the Middle School), Plaistow

Plymouth:  May 1 at 6:00 p.m. in room 220, Hyde Hall, Plymouth State University

Wolfeboro:  May 8 at 7:00 p.m at Wolfeboro Town Hall, 84 South Main Street, Wolfeboro

North Conway:  May 15 at 6:00 p.m. at Kennett High School, Loynd Auditorium, 409 Eagle’s Way, North Conway

 

 

House Passes Proposed Budget (Including School Funding Provisions) Along Party Lines

First the good news:  On Thursday, the House approved HBs 1 and 2, as amended and proposed by the House Finance Committee (the House budget bills.)   These bills incorporate the contents of the three funding bills we’ve been following: HBs 177, 709, and 551.  If passed by the Senate and approved by the Governor, they’d restore stabilization grants to 2016 levels for FY 2020, add significant fiscal capacity disparity aid and additional free and reduced lunch aid beginning in FY 2021, and establish a funded, independent commission to develop a new school funding formula. Overall, $164 million in increased aid would go to local school districts around the State, paid for by a capital gains tax.

Now the bad news: Though the House budget bills passed, not a single Republican voted for them.  Moreover, two last-minute amendments to HB2, offered by Rep. Rick Ladd, signaled a dramatic loss of Republican support for funding measures which many Republicans had voted for just weeks ago.   (more…)

NHPR: Democrats’ Proposed Tax to Boost School Aid Draws Applause and Apprehension

With strong citizen support, school funding has been a bipartisan priority so far but, as NHPR reports, partisanship may well be reemerging:

On Thursday, the Democratic-led House will vote on its version of the state budget. The budget, which is expected to pass, includes a $160 million increase in state aid to schools – the largest since the state ramped up funding twenty years ago in response to the Claremont lawsuits.

But with Governor Sununu’s veto pen at the ready, the budget faces an uphill battle in the next few months.

(more…)

Legislative Update from the NH School Funding Fairness Project

There will be no public hearings on education funding bills this week.  However, this Thursday, April 11, the NH House of Representatives will vote on two critical bills:

a.  The budget proposed by the House Finance Committee  (HB 1A, as amended).  This proposed budget includes $164 million to support increased aid to local school districts.  The additional funding would come from a capital gains tax.

b.  The “Trailer Bill” (HB2, as amended), which contains substantive information about what’s in the budget.  Among other things, HB 2 incorporates the contents of the three funding bills we’ve been following:  HBs 177, 709, and 551.  It would restore stabilization grants to 2016 levels for FY 2020, add fiscal capacity disparity aid and additional free and reduced lunch aid beginning in FY 2021, and establish a commission to develop a new funding formula. (more…)

Keene Sentinel on the ConVal suit: Judge denies preliminary injunction, sets hearing for June

The Sentinel reports on yesterday’s decision by Judge Ruoff denying the ConVal injunction but committing to arrive at a decision on the merits of the districts’ case before the June 30 end of the fiscal year: (more…)

NHPR: In Pittsfield, School Innovation Struggles to Survive Budget Cuts

Yesterday’s installment in NHPR’s great series on education funding, called Adequacy, brought home the challenges faced by the property poor school district striving against the odds to overcome lack of state support for public education.  The impact on teachers and students is immediate and tangible: (more…)

Fosters: Why is Dover’s per-pupil school spending so low?

Here is highlights from Fosters coverage of Andy Volinsky’s recent School Funding 101 presentation in Dover:

DOVER — The city of Concord spends an average of $68,100 more per 20-student classroom than Dover does. If that trend in per-pupil spending continued for 13 years as the student progressed from kindergarten through 12th grade, that difference per classroom would come to almost $900,000.

Concord has roughly 11,600 more people than Dover, but the cities are similar in many comparisons, such as total school enrollment, equalized property valuation per student and average class sizes. But there are differences. Concord has not implemented a tax cap, and the Concord School Board operates independently of the Concord City Council. Dover has a tax cap and is known as a dependent district, which means the City Council has final say over the School Department’s bottom line number.

(more…)

Monitor: 11 North Country superintendents join debate, although not the lawsuit, over state funding

In the Concord Monitor today, yet more on the widespread pain inflicted by the lack of state support for public education:

Superintendents from 11 school districts in the North County have joined recent criticism about state funding in an unusual joint announcement, reflecting concern that is echoed by local school officials. [Note: Here is the full letter]

“Our current path will soon lead us to economic peril,” concludes a two-page letter released Thursday, signed by superintendents representing 40 towns and school districts north of the White Mountains.

However, the letter stops short of saying that the group will join a new lawsuit in which three school districts are suing the state over the level of financial support.

Many school districts are eyeing that lawsuit.

(more…)

Held Back: Why N.H. Still Struggles to Answer School Funding Questions – NHPR

NHPR has inaugurated a weekly series on education funding in the State, broadcast every Thursday morning.  The first installment provides historical context.  Here are some highlights:

Last week, the ConVal School District sued the state, claiming that lawmakers are failing to fund an “adequate education” and that local taxpayers are shouldering more than their fair share.

This isn’t the first time New Hampshire has seen an education funding lawsuit. Districts across the state – from Claremont to Pittsfield – made similar arguments in court decades ago. And they won.

But many say the battle is far from over.

(more…)