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ConVal sues to force the State of New Hampshire to fund a constitutionally adequate education

Here are all the court documents so far, and highlights from the NHPR report:

In a move that surprised many education funding advocates, the ConVal School District in southwestern New Hampshire filed a lawsuit today against the state, claiming lawmakers have failed to fund an adequate education.

The complaint names the state of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Department of Education, Governor Sununu and DOE Commissioner Frank Edelblut as defendants.


Brad Cook in the NH Business Review: It’s time to address school funding!

Brad Cook Sheehan Phinney attorney and potential Republican gubernatorial candidate in years past, has watched the statehouse closely for what seems like forever.  He has taken to the pages of the New Hampshire Business Review to agree with Andy Volinsky and John Tobin about the need for school funding reform.  Here is what he says: (more…)

House Education Committee votes 17-3 to return the stabilization fund to 2016 levels

HB 177, for which a public hearing was held two weeks ago, was amended to go back to the 2016 level.  The original bill only went back to 2018 levels. Rep. Luneau brought the amendment and will take the bill to the House floor.  Rep. Luneau, Ladd, Boehm, Myler, and others spoke strongly about the urgency of the bill.

Rep.  Cordelli wanted only to go back to 2018 levels and he will speak for the minority on the House floor.

(writeup from John Tobin)

HB 569, the “innovation school” bill, would give the State Board of Education the power to override New Hampshire statutes

At 11:15 on Wednesday, February 6th, the House Education Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 569, a bill that gives the commissioner of education, with the approval of the state board, the authority to override virtually every New Hampshire statute about education.

The bill uses innovation language but there is no statement of purpose or goals so you must read through lists of powers to see what is going on. (more…)

John Streeter’s school funding testimony to the House Education Committee: Local education isn’t local anymore.

Here is a somewhat shortened version (with emphasis added) of the testimony John Streeter presented to the House Education Committee concerning school funding.  (Read his full testimony here.) He provides a detailed rationale for funding education primarily at the state level instead of through local property taxes: (more…)

Attend the Education Funding 101 forum in Manchester tonight!

Here are the details. Kevin Landrigan tees it up in his column today:

Supporters for overhauling the education aid law will host a 12th forum tonight (Thursday) at Memorial High School in Manchester.

Meanwhile, two NH House committees took testimony earlier this week on several bills championed by the forum founders, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, D-Concord, and Concord lawyer John Tobin.

At the outset, Volinsky said Gov. Chris Sununu and the Legislature need to restore cuts made in the last two state budgets to stabilization grants that are meant to help communities hardest hit with high public school costs.

The two also seek a commission with professional staff to update the cost of a constitutionally assured adequate education and study ways to pay for it

“In part we want to encourage those attending to talk with their elected representatives and press the point that the local property tax is a terribly onerous burden for working families,” said Volinsky, who is considering a 2020 run for governor.

“For communities like Manchester with student populations that need additional services, the problem is just exacerbated.”

Volinsky and Tobin were part of the lead legal team that won the Claremont lawsuit, which led to the state Supreme Court ruling that reliance on the local property tax was unconstitutional.

But Volinsky said those local taxes pay 73 percent of total school costs.

Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes of Concord has signed onto an interim way to pay for these increases in grants (HB 686), which is to impose a 5 percent capital gains tax.

The bill would at least double the exemption that all working families would get from the existing 5 percent tax on interest and dividends and if adopted it would raise $84 million in 2020.

The forum starts at 6 p.m.

Five school funding reform bills reviewed on Tuesday

InDepthNH has great coverage of Tuesday’s House Education Committee and House Ways and Means Committee hearings on school funding.  (Reaching Higher NH videos of the hearings are here.)

Committee chair Rep. Mel Myler has indicated that he would form a subcommittee to debate and consolidate all education funding bills, hoping to send a single bill to the House floor and on to the House Finance Committee.  Here are highlights from InDepthNH coverage of the hearings: (more…)

UL article gives insight on the impact of the school funding formula on Berlin

Union Leader North Country reporter John Koziol describes how declining enrollment combined with declining state support for school funding resulted in the recent school board decision to close the Berlin’s iconic Brown Elementary School.  Here are some highlights: (more…)

The Concord Monitor: Edelblut’s diagnosis of what ails N.H. education is way off


New Hampshire’s education policy debate has come to the fore because over the past couple of years Governor Sununu has tried to put our public schools on a radical new path.  By appointing a homeschooling advocate as education commissioner and giving him his head, the Governor has embraced a commitment to individualized, privatized, publicly funded education.

And Commissioner Edelblut has written a series of editorials promoting the administration’s critique of New Hampshire public education.  A couple of months ago, the Commissioner made the case that our schools are stuck in a rut and that something called “education reform” is failing.  Most recently, he observed:

What does it look like when schooling gets in the way of education?  We do not have to look very far….


House Education Committee hears strong support for restoring stabilization fund

Last Thursday (sorry for the delay; grandkids took over), the education committee held its public hearing on HB 177, the Rep. Rick Ladd (R, Haverhill, former committee chair) proposal to stop process of reducing the stabilization fund so critical to property poor communities by 4% per year until it is gone.  (Garry Reyno puts the stabilization fund in context here and Reaching Higher NH provides great detail here.)

The Facebook stream of the hearing, provided by Reaching Higher NH, is here starting at minute 57 and continued here.  You can see great accurate coverage from WMUR here.  And in (picked up by many other papers as well), Gail Ober reports in detail on the hearing in the context of the larger education funding issue that Andy Volinsky and John Tobin have been discussing across the State over the past 7 months. (more…)