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N.H. Supreme Court Case on Education Funding Inches Forward

Dan Tuohy / NHPR
New Hampshire Supreme Court

School districts in the Monadnock region are continuing to press New Hampshire's highest court to force the state to reevaluate its approach to public education funding.

In a brief filed this week, the Contoocook Valley ("ConVal"), Monadnock, Winchester and Mascenic school districts said the state is not meeting its constitutional obligation to fund an “adequate” education for all students.

To provide an adequate education, the districts argue, the state should be covering a greater share of districts’ costs – including those for school nurses, superintendents, teachers’ benefits, food services, facilities and transportation.

Right now, the state provides $3,562.71 per pupil in “base adequacy aid” to districts, in addition to an array of other aid, largely based on students’ needs and a town’s level of poverty.

The ConVal case is the latest in a decades-long debate over the whether the state spends enough money on public education and raises those funds through fair taxation.

A lower court ruled partially in the districts’ favor last year, but the case is now before the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

The state says it is impossibleto tell if the plaintiffs’ calculations for the price of educating students include costs incurred for services beyond those considered “constitutionally adequate.”  State attorneys also argue that they were deprived the opportunity to conduct full discovery of evidence used in Superior Court last year.

The state’s reply to the plaintiffs' brief is due to the Supreme Court in May.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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