Education Funding | New Hampshire Public Radio

Education Funding

N.H. Supreme Court
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has declined to issue a definitive order on a case about school funding, instead sending it back to a lower court for a full trial. 

The unanimous opinion issued Tuesday avoids an immediate overhaul of the state’s education funding model, which currently sends “adequacy aid" to school districts at a rate of about $4,500 per pupil.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Lawmakers are looking for ways to help school districts address anticipated budget shortfalls resulting from declines in enrollment during the pandemic.

Amanda Loder for NHPR

Fewer students in New Hampshire are attending their neighborhood public school this year, according to new data from the state Department of Education.

The state typically sees a one percent drop in public school enrollment each year, due to aging demographics, but this fall’s decline is far more significant: about four percent statewide.

School Funding: A New Lawsuit and COVID-19

Sep 28, 2020
Three students sit at desks completing worksheets.
The City Journal

Though it has been the subject of debate for decades, school funding is back in the limelight in New Hampshire. The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week after four districts sued the state for not funding an adequate education for students. We examine the history and nuances of this discussion and explore how the issue is complicated by COVID-19. 

Air date: Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. 

Find all of our coverage and share your experiences with NHPR's COVID & The Classroom. / Flickr/Creative Commons

The New Hampshire Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday in a case that's the latest in a decades-long debate over whether the state pays enough for public education.

Multiple New Hampshire School Districts are suing the state for not meeting its constitutional obligation to fund an adequate education for all students.

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stock photo of gavel
Joe Gratz / flickr, creative commons:

A decision by the New Hampshire Supreme Court on how the state funds public education is expected by the end of the year. The court’s decision will be the latest chapter in the decades-long battle over how the state funds its schools.

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Dan Tuohy / NHPR

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.

Claremont residents have approved a measure to spend one-time relief money the school district received from the state on three special education programs.

Sara Ernst / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu signed a compromise two-year state budget into law on Thursday in front of a group of students and teachers at Franklin High School.


Weekly N.H. News Roundup: September 6, 2019

Sep 5, 2019

Students are back at school and we focus on education issues. The N.H. Supreme Court is asked once again to weigh in on school funding. In Concord, the school board considers a petition to remove two administrators for how they handled allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior by former teacher, Howie Leung.  We find out why the Manchester Police Department says it is losing confidence in Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Conlon.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Defendants in a case over school funding in New Hampshire want the state Supreme Court to take up their case.

The Attorney General's office filed an appeal Wednesday with the Supreme Court on behalf of the state, Governor Chris Sununu, the New Hampshire Department of Education and Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: June 7, 2019

Jun 8, 2019

We hear about the latest development in the Bear Brook cold case; genetic genealogy helped to identify the likely killer but the victims remain unknown. In a ruling that could have far reaching impacts, a  judge has called the state's current method for funding public schools is unconstitutional. And The Mount Washington Observatory and the Cog Railway are going to court over property rights on the summit of Mt. Washington. 


John Phelan / Wikipedia Creative Commons

A Cheshire County judge ruled Wednesday that the state’s current formula for funding public schools is unconstitutional, potentially re-opening New Hampshire's long-simmering school funding debate.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

At the foot of Mount Monadnock sits the town of Dublin. It has a famous lake, around 1,500 residents, and one little elementary school.

But all is not well in picturesque Dublin. Its school district and surrounding towns are involved in a lawsuit against the state over education funding.

Sarah gibson


New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut was in Dublin on Wednesday night to encourage residents frustrated with their school district and property taxes to consider school choice.

Edelblut was invited by resident Leo Plante, who thinks Dublin should pull out of the Contoocook Valley School District and give annual $15,000 vouchers to parents to send their kids to private and public schools of their choice.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The Exchange follows up on the NHPR series "Adequate," about how the state decides the value of public education, with a discussion in front of a live audience at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30th. We speak with NHPR reporter Sarah Gibson, school superintendents, an attorney who has represented school districts, and two representatives from the House Education Committee on how the Legislature is handling public education funding. / Flickr/Creative Commons

A Cheshire County judge has dismissed an emergency request from the state to strike down part of an ongoing lawsuit over how New Hampshire funds public education.

The lawsuit - brought by the ConVal and Winchester school districts in March - says the state is not fulfilling its constitutional obligation to fund an adequate education, and that it needs to triple the amount of money it sends to districts.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR


For schools across New Hampshire, special education is a growing need and a growing cost. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Manchester, the state’s largest district, where special ed expenditures have nearly tripled in the last twenty years.  

Dan Tuohy for NHPR

On Thursday, the Democratic-led House will vote on its version of the state budget. The budget, which is expected to pass, includes a $160 million increase in state aid to schools - the largest since the state ramped up funding twenty years ago in response to the Claremont lawsuits.


But with Governor Sununu’s veto pen at the ready, the budget faces an uphill battle in the next few months.



A Cheshire Superior Court judge has denied a preliminary request by the ConVal and Winchester school districts for expedited funding from the state.


In a lawsuit filed last month, the two districts argued that New Hampshire is not meeting its constitutional obligation to fund an adequate education for every student in the state.

Courtesy of N.H. DOE


New Hampshire’s work to improve early childhood services is getting a big boost with a nearly $4 million planning grant from the federal government.

Researchers at UNH will team up with the state Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education to figure out the best way to coordinate and publicize services for kids.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

A school funding lawsuit against the state got its first hearing at the Cheshire County Superior Court on Friday morning. The two plaintiffs, the Contoocook Valley and Winchester School Districts, argue that the state is not fulfilling its constitutional obligation to fund an adequate education for all New Hampshire students.

Sarah Gibson / NHPR

Last week, the ConVal School District sued the state, claiming that lawmakers are failing to fund an "adequate education" and that local taxpayers are shouldering more than their fair share.

This isn’t the first time New Hampshire has seen an education funding lawsuit. Districts across the state - from Claremont to Pittsfield - made similar arguments in court decades ago. And they won.



A school funding lawsuit filed last week against the state is getting some support. The Monadnock School District announced Tuesday it’s joining the ConVal School District’s efforts to sue the state over education funding. 


The lawsuit claims the state is not meeting its constitutional obligation to pay for an adequate education and it seeks millions more in funding.


Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 15, 2019

Mar 15, 2019

The NH Senate votes unanimously to fund full-day kindergarten entirely from state funds, rather than using money generated by Keno. Instead Keno funds would go to school building aid. Eight Democratic presidential candidates (including two potential contenders) will be in N.H. this weekend. And, in honor of Sunshine Week, we'll revisit some stories that would not have been possible without reporters seeking information using state and federal open records laws. 

John Phelan / Wikipedia Creative Commons

In a move that surprised many education funding advocates, the ConVal School District in southwestern New Hampshire filed a lawsuit today against the state, claiming lawmakers have failed to fund an adequate education.

The complaint names the state of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Department of Education, Governor Sununu and DOE Commissioner Frank Edelblut as defendants.

It says the "adequacy aid" that the state sends to districts needs to triple to meet basic requirements laid out in state law.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR


Three major education funding bills cleared the House on Monday.

HB 177 stops the state from reducing aid to districts, called stabilization grants, and restores it to 2016 levels for the next two years.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rick Ladd of Haverhill, said this provides temporary relief while they figure out a longer-term funding plan.

Special Education Funding In The Granite State

Feb 18, 2019

After news that New Hampshire had over $10 million in unspent federal funds for special education over the last ten years, we take a look at the dynamic balance of allocating resources for special education in the state, including changing student needs, workforce shortages, and the challenge of predicting and adapting to the ever-evolving student population within a school and within a district. We also look at why special education programs can vary widely with regards to resources across the state, and how that impacts students and educators. 

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Lawmakers are considering several bills that would restore state education aid known as “stabilization aid” to property-poor towns, and school districts are paying attention.

At a hearing on Thursday, school administrators and town officials from property-poor towns plead with the House of Representatives Education Committee to restore stabilization aid.

“I implore you to help us so we can get through this," Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier said.

Manchester School District


The way the state helps school districts cover the cost of public education will be on the agenda in the New Hampshire State House next year.

The state currently provides $3,636 per student - called "adequacy aid" - to districts, and sends supplemental aid for English language learners, students with special education needs, and students in poverty.

A proposal this fall from legislators on the Committee to Study Education Funding and the Cost of an Opportunity for an Adequate Education would bump adequacy funding to nearly $4,000 for every student.