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.
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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
“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 [link]
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.
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.
Newport Claremont: 6:00 PM, August 14, Newport at Richards Elementary School, 21 School St, Newport, NH 03773
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.
This post was written by Doug Hall and edited by Bill Duncan. If you would like to hold a forum to discuss school funding in your community, click here.
New Hampshire school districts first brought the Claremont lawsuit, as it is called, against the State of New Hampshire in 1991. The New Hampshire Supreme Court first ruled on it in the Claremont I decision of 1993 and, then, it ruled again in the Claremont II decision of 1997.
The plaintiffs had two goals:
- Reduce the disparity in spending per pupil among the school districts; and,
- Reduce the disparity in property tax rates for schools paid by local property tax payers.
The court concluded that the provision of an “adequate education” was a state responsibility and under the Constitution must therefore be funded by taxes that are uniform in their rates.
The first reform measure enacted by the New Hampshire legislature to comply with the Supreme Court decisions went into effect in 1999. It included a uniform statewide property tax to be distributed to the school districts and increases in other taxes.
So what have been the results? (more…)