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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.

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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…)

Valley News on the Mascoma forum: Attorneys say, “N.H. Has Failed Its Students”

The Valley News covered the Mascoma School Funding 101 forum with its usual insight. Here are the highlights:

Two attorneys who helped lead historic efforts to improve how the Granite State funds its schools said on Thursday that New Hampshire has failed to deliver on hard-earned promises made more than two decades ago, when the Claremont school funding cases were decided.

Speaking before an auditorium of about 30 parents, educators and politicians at Mascoma Valley Regional High School, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky argued against the status quo of using local property taxes to pay for the majority of education costs. He also called on lawmakers to help property-poor towns that are struggling because of reduced state education grants.

“We don’t really have a system of school funding,” said Volinsky, a Democrat from Concord whose district includes Unity and Newbury. Instead, he said, most towns are left on their own to fund students’ needs.

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WMUR review: Is it time for a ‘Claremont III’ education funding lawsuit?

John DiStaso has produced a very helpful review of the background and context for the school funding issue as it comes to the fore in the New Hampshire political debate.  Here are some highlights, but the full piece is not behind a paywall and is well worth reading:

They’re back. They say the state has dodged its constitutional responsibility to fund an adequate level of education for too long. Now, it is time to bring the issue to the forefront again, as it was 25 years ago, and make it a voting issue, they say.

And, they say, it may even be time to sue the state again.

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More than 20 years ago, Andru Volinsky and John Tobin were key members of a legal team that brought the Claremont school funding lawsuit against the state.

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Concord Monitor: Major School Funding 101 forum in Concord on Tuesday, Oct 2

The Monitor wrote this morning about the School Funding 101 forum to be held on Oct 2 at 6:00PM at Concord High:

The Concord, Allenstown and Pembroke school districts are hosting an executive councilor and a lawyer to talk about school funding in the state.

The N.H. School Funding 101 Forum will take place next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Concord High School’s Christa McAuliffe Auditorium. It will feature District 2 Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky and lawyer John Tobin, both of whom were part of the legal team involved in the original Claremont school funding lawsuit. The pair have held several similar forums across the state.

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School Funding 101 forum in Keene brings out many key points

The Keene Sentinel provided a thorough report on the School Funding 101 forum Attorney John Tobin and Executive Councilor Andy Volinsky recently held in Keene, co-sponsored by the Monadnock, Chesterfield, Westmoreland, Nelson, Marlow, Harrisville, Marlborough, Jaffrey, Rindge, Winchester, ConVal, and Wilton/Lyndeborough school districts:

…Volinsky and Tobin began with a basic explanation of the state’s public education funding system. They noted that more than 70 percent of education costs in New Hampshire are paid for through local property taxes.

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John Tobin in NH Bar News: We’re making great progress. Let our candidates know that you demand school funding fairness!

Here is John Tobin’s latest report to the New Hampshire Bar News on the status of the school funding issue:

In April I wrote an article for the New Hampshire Bar News about how the current school funding system, with its wildly disproportionate property tax rates, is decimating the school systems and economies of dozens of New Hampshire towns and cities, with many more communities also in increasing jeopardy. I noted that this crisis had pushed me to come out of retirement and start recruiting lawyers for a possible new school- funding lawsuit. In the intervening five months I have quietly pursued that effort. But I am also very happy to report that the Bar News article, which was widely distributed and republished, has helped to spur a groundswell of efforts to bring the issues of school funding and property taxes into the center of public discussion and debate during the current election season.

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School funding emerges as a central issue in the Upper Valley senate race

The Valley News story on the state senate race between incumbent Bob Giuda (R- Warren) and Democratic challenger Bill Bolton, from Plymouth, is particularly interesting to supporters of public education.  You know that school funding has become a central concern in New Hampshire when both candidates in key races have fully formulated positions on the issue: (more…)

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.

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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.

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