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, Nashua and Peterborough have been completed with hundreds in attendance and many questions answered.  Here are the upcoming events:

The next Education Funding 101 forum will be:

Belmont High School at 6:00 PM on Thursday, January 17, 2019.  This session will be co-hosted by Shaker Regional, Laconia, Gilford, and Merrimack Valley.  Belmont High is at 255 Seavey Road in Belmont.

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

 

Scott Marion reads the “Save Our Summers Study Commission” report for us. He’s not buyin’ it.

People may know of the governor’s effort to mandate that schools start only after Labor Day but be only dimly aware of the Save Our Summers Study Commission he has empaneled to make the case for him.  But they have issued a report and Scott Marion, an education researcher and Rye school board member, has actually read it.  He gives his analysis in a letter to the Portsmouth Herald.  Here’s his thesis:

Would adjusting the school calendar by a few days really bring to a windfall of money to New Hampshire? The story in last week’s Herald and the recent editorial describing the Governor’s “Save our Summers” commission report made it sound that way. Given this alleged great news, I read the full report, but came away with three major questions:

-*- The report and the editorial never mentioned what’s best for kids. Shouldn’t this be the primary purpose of any major change we make to our educational system?

-*- Are the logic and analyses of the report trustworthy?

-*- Isn’t the “Live Free and Die” State all about local control?

(more…)

The NH state board of education proposes to grant graduation credits toward local high school diplomas

When Gov. Sununu says, “SB 435 was one of my major legislative priorities,”  he’s talking about a one sentence amendment to New Hampshire’s definition of an adequate education:

The state board of education shall adopt rules….relative to the approval of alternative programs for granting credit leading to graduation.

The harmless-sounding bill, sponsored by a dozen Republicans and three Democrats, sailed through both bodies on voice votes (based on near unanimous committee support).

Legislators and school administrators probably did not realize the trap that had been laid for them until the State Board of Education approved the initial draft of the of the rule required by that sentence.

What does the proposed rule actually say?  Here it is.  Under the proposed rule, the state board grants itself the authority to make use of the diploma issued by any local school board in New Hampshire. (more…)

The next Education Funding 101 forum: January 17 at Belmont High!

After a post-election hiatus in Education Funding 101 forums, four Lakes Region school districts have joined to co-host the next session.  It will be at 6:00 on Thursday, January 17 in the  Belmont High School auditorium, 255 Seavey Road in Belmont.

If you haven’t gone to a previous forum, this is a great chance to understand one of the most important issues before the new Legislature.

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…)