Communities Want N.H. to Improve Education Funding, Consider Another Lawsuit

Jun 14, 2018

Executive Councilor Andru Volinksy explained the state's history of funding public education. The picture on this slide is of a broken chalkboard in a Claremont school during the 1990s, when Volinsky led the lawsuits against the state to get adequate funding.
Credit Daniela Allee / NHPR

It was standing room only in the lecture hall in Pittsfield Middle School. More than 100 people from Berlin, Franklin, Keene and elsewhere listened as Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky described the history of how the state has funded public education. The main topic was tension over how much money the state sends to local districts.

When he got to the list of lawsuits against the state on the issue, that's when hands started popping up.  

Bryan Lamirande was one of those. He's the business manager for Berlin Public Schools. He said they’ve had to deal with tighter budgets for the past several years.

"One, why did the state start taking stabilization away from us in 2015?” he asked. “And two, how can we work collaboratively to start a lawsuit? Because we're ready to go."

The room burst into applause after his second question.

Stefne Ricci is a junior at Pittsfield High School. That district has also had to cut positions and programs in the last few years—in part because of insufficient state support.

"I have to deal with the money that's given so that's impacting my education which then impacts my entire life,” she said, “and it affects everyone in Pittsfield lives because they're on the lower spectrum when it comes to school funding."

As for next steps, there was consensus to reach out to state representatives, make school funding a main issue in the upcoming elections, and getting out to vote — but as for another lawsuit, that’s still up in the air.