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Do we have the education leadership we need in New Hampshire?

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…)

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

Peterborough: 7:00 – 8:30, November 13.  This will be a different format from the School Funding 101 forums.  It’s a “Community Conversation” in Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History & Culture at 19 Grove St. in Peterborough.

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

 

The Claremont School Funding Reforms: Then and Now

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…)

Property-poor N.H. towns mull an education funding lawsuit against the state

Here is a Concord Monitor story on the “School Funding 101” forum held in Pittsfield in June.  Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky and retired New Hampshire Legal Assistance head John Tobin, two attorneys who helped litigate the Claremont cases, are educating parents, citizens, school boards and legislators across the state to the reality that our current school funding mechanism is not constitutional and they are discussing what we can do about it.

If you would like to hold a School Funding 101 forum in your community, give us your contact info, below. (more…)

Concord Monitor Editorial: Education funding is still broken

School funding will be a central issue in the next legislature so we’re catching up on some posts that tee the issue up for readers.  The Concord Monitor has been on top of this issue for quite awhile and in June published this editorial highlighting the plight of Franklin as representative of the broader issue. (more…)

How much does the State of New Hampshire actually contribute to K-12 public education? (Answer: very little)

The debates over vouchers and over whether local school boards must send students to private schools if parents would prefer that are not really about parental choice or private school choice.  They are about money – whether New Hampshire should spend millions of dollars to send a few children to private schools.

But the New Hampshire contribution to public education is already inadequate. (more…)

Why did fundamental good sense prevail on the voucher bill?

SB 193, the statewide voucher bill, appears to have been the highest legislative priority of the Governor and legislative leadership.  It had the support of many Republicans who feel that the State should provide access to private schools in support of parental choice and student needs.  Last fall, it looked sure to pass.  But in the end, the House voted it down by the thinnest of margins.

Here’s a central reason:

Voucher opponents on the State House steps

Voucher opponents on the State House steps

(more…)

Here are the roll-call votes on HB 1636. Please. Express your appreciation to House members who opposed this debilitating voucher program.

Actually, we’ll present these votes differently from in the past.  There were two votes on HB 1636 on Thursday.  The first was on the motion, “Non-concur, committee of conference.”  The second was just “Non-concur.”  We had urged House members in numerous one-on-one conversations to oppose both motions, for the reasons we outlined here.  The complete official tally of each vote is available here.  We will use this post to highlight those we should thank for voting with us. (more…)

SB 193 is dead for this year! The House voted 180-163 to “non-concur.” (…but get ready for next year.)

There’s nothing much more to say than to express thanks and appreciation to the many dozens of committed parents and volunteers who expressed their opposition to vouchers.

Please.  Stay engaged.  This bill and other challenges will be back before a new Legislature next year.  Parents and others concerned about the future of public education in New Hampshire will need to maintain a strong, reasonable, rational voice in the policy process.

The House finds itself unable to fix the Senate’s voucher bill that most everyone considers a bad bill

It is widely agreed that the version of SB 193 that passed the Senate in March, 2017 is too costly to the general fund and still downshifts hundreds of millions of dollars in school funding responsibility to local taxpayers and has many other problems.  But the House is finding that its options for fixing the bill are limited.  (more…)