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Superior Court Judge David W. Ruoff drops a bomb on Concord: the state’s support for public education is unconstitutional.
In backroom conversations, New Hampshire’s elected leadership have recognized for years that the adequacy formula determining state funding for public education is unconstitutional. The Legislature had set the funding level unrealistically low – currently $3,636 plus some other targeted forms of aid – and just hoped to keep the issue in the background as long as possible.
The string ran out on that strategy this year as schools closed or dropped important courses and the NH School Funding Fairness Project led by Andy Volinsky, John Tobin and Doug Hall held 35 forums (and counting) around the state explaining the system and the damage it is doing to students, property poor communities and property taxpayers. While the Fairness Project and hundreds of active supporters pursued a legislative remedy, ConVal and 3 other school districts went to court in March to challenge the formula.
On Friday, the Senate Finance Committee approved an amended version of the House’s budget and sent it to the full Senate, which will vote on it on June 6. Assuming the Senate confirms it, a Committee of Conference (comprised of Senators and Representatives) will be formed to work intensively over a period of days, hammering out differences between the House and Senate budgets.
Although the Senate Finance Committee’s amendment retained two critical school funding measures that were in the House budget (restoration of stabilization grants to 2016 levels and funding for an independent commission to develop a long-term solution), it reduced by about $71 million the amount of interim aid the House budget had included for struggling districts. (*More detail on the Committee’s proposed budget is provided at the end of this newsletter.) (more…)
NH School Funding Fairness Project – Newsletter 21, 5/19/19
The Senate Finance Committee’s public deliberations on the budget will begin this week. All of the budget work sessions listed below will be held in the State House, Room 103. Public input is not taken at these sessions, but feel free to sit in and listen.
- Monday 5/20 9:30-11:00 a.m.; 2:00 p.m.
- Tuesday 5/21 3:00 p.m.
- Friday 5/24 9:30 a.m.
In addition, on Tuesday, May 21, at 1:00 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on a new revenue proposal (offered as amendment 2019-2031s), that would impose payroll deductions on wages in excess of the Social Security tax cap, with revenues to be dedicated primarily for education purposes. (more…)
NH School Funding Fairness Project, Newsletter 20
First, some inspiration!
People showed up in force to testify at the three Senate Finance Committee budget hearings this past week, and many were there to talk about education. Students, administrators, teachers, mayors, school board members and taxpayers made the case, over and over, for why we need to overhaul the way we fund our schools. (more…)
Seventy-four people testified at this afternoon’s Senate Finance Committee’s budget hearing. Fourteen of these speakers were there to ask senators to keep the school funding provisions in the House budget bills, at the levels provided there. The hearing will reconvene this evening at 6:00.
Compelling testimony on school funding was heard from: (more…)
Budget Hearings Coming Right Up
As we reported last week, the NH Senate Finance Committee will hold public hearings this week about the House budget bills. One additional hearing has been added. The hearings are:
1) Tuesday afternoon, May 7, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. in Representatives’ Hall, second floor of the New Hampshire State House, 107 N Main Street, Concord, NH,
2) Tuesday evening, May 7, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. in Representatives’ Hall, second floor of the New Hampshire State House, 107 N Main Street, Concord, NH, and
3) Wednesday evening, May 8, at 7:00 p.m. at Manchester City Hall, Aldermanic Chambers (3rd floor), 1 City Hall Plaza, Manchester, NH (more…)
From the School Funding Fairness Project Newsletter, 4/28/19:
The NH Senate Finance Committee has scheduled two hearings on the budget bills recently passed by the House (HBs 1 and 2). These bills contain, among other things, the education funding measures that were developed through the thoughtful, bipartisan efforts of the House Education Committee and that we’ve been supporting during this legislative session. The measures include: restoring stabilization grants to 2016 levels, adding significant targeted aid for struggling districts, and creating an independent, funded commission to develop a sustainable and constitutional longterm school funding plan.
Now it’s time to convince the Senate to support these education funding provisions. The work begins in the Senate Finance Committee, which has scheduled two public hearings on the budget bills: (more…)
Portsmouth Herald: “We do have an education funding problem, which is a drag on our economy, particularly in rural areas, and it’s getting worse.”
The Herald weighed in editorially on the school funding issue after an editorial board visit by Executive Councilor and lead Claremont case attorney Andy Volinsky:
The fight over education funding in New Hampshire has, at least for now, moved from courts of law to the court of public opinion.
The lead lawyers in the landmark 1997 Claremont II education funding lawsuit, which affirmed New Hampshire’s constitutional duty to provide every K-12 student an “adequate” public education, acknowledge that despite favorable rulings from the state Supreme Court, disparities in educational opportunities have not gotten better over the past 20 years. In fact, they have gotten worse.
The NHPR series “Adequate: How A State Decides The Value of Public Education” has provided important insights into education funding in New Hampshire and the impact inadequate state support for its schools has had on our communities. The series will culminate next Tuesday with a forum to be held at NHPR headquarters in Concord. Here are the details. You can register here to attend the forum live in NHPR’s Studio D.
Laura Knoy is host a great panel:
- John J. Freeman—Superintendent of Schools, Pittsfield School District
- Our own John Tobin —One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the landmark Claremont education case against the state, and a leader in the current NH School Funding Fairness Project
- Rick Ladd—Republican state representative from Haverhill; former chair of the Education Committee, N.H. House of Representatives
- Jessica Huizenga—Superintendent of Schools, Milford School District
Don’t miss it!
Timberlane Regional School District residents and two state senators turned out at the Performing Arts Center on Monday night to learn how the state’s school funding mechanism is affecting communities.
The presentation was led by attorney John Tobin, who was part of the landmark Claremont education funding case before the state Supreme Court in the 1990s. He said the current funding system is hurting students, taxpayers, and home and business owners.