New NHPR Series Reports on Effects of the State’s Public School Funding Decisions

Mar 20, 2019

New Hampshire’s challenge in funding public schools is the topic of a new series from New Hampshire Public Radio titled Adequate: How a State Decides the Value of Public Education, which will begin airing Thursday, March 21.

The reporting effort by NHPR’s education reporter Sarah Gibson is part of the newsroom’s State of Democracy project, which looks at the impact of state policy on people’s day-to-day lives. Stories in the Adequate series will look at how schools are struggling to serve their students with rising education costs and declining state funds.

“In many New Hampshire communities, education has become a tense topic, as increasing school budgets result in higher local property taxes,” said NHPR’s Managing Editor Cori Princell. “The Adequate series offers some perspective on how the state’s education funding system became what it is. In these stories, we’ll look at how the state’s funding decisions are impacting schools, families and local taxpayers – at a time when the state faces a lawsuit, and lawmakers consider making significant changes.”

Reporter Sarah Gibson travels across the state, bringing listeners stories set in schools that are dealing with these challenges in their own ways.

Story 1 airing Thursday, March 21: In 1997, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled the state had to provide an adequate education for every child, and pay for it through uniform state taxes. This story looks at what led up to that court decision, and how the state implemented the new requirement through adequacy funding. Many argue that funding isn’t near enough, and last week, the ConVal school district sued the state for more.

Subsequent Stories: Airing on Thursdays, each subsequent story will visit a different school system in the state, including Berlin, Pittsfield and Manchester.  Schools in the state face a breadth of issues, from school closures to tight budgets, to the strain on teachers and administrators. Gibson will also look at wealthier school districts to hear their perspectives in this ongoing debate.

Stories will be released on subsequent Thursdays: March 21, March 28, April 4, April 11 and April 18. Online versions of the stories will include more information and resources and can be found here.