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N.H. Senate Approves Aid Formula

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The New Hampshire Senate approved a new school foundation-aid formula last week but has yet to act on a House-approved increase in state aid.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the school-finance suit Jesseman v. New Hampshire have indicated that the seven districts suing the state, and the 21 others supporting them, might drop the action if the state approves a sufficient increase in aid to go along with the formula change. (See Education Week, May 1, 1985.)

The new formula, designed by John Augenblick, a school-finance consultant, weighs different categories of students on the basis of how much it costs to educate them and calculates a district's ability to pay, based on its relative property wealth, income, and local tax effort. It has already been approved by the House and endorsed by Gov. John Sununu.

The House voted to merge four existing programs into the new foundation program and to raise the aid over two years by nearly $24 million. Governor Sununu, who seeks a $1.8-million increase over the current expenditure of $3.6 million, has threatened to veto the larger increase.

A pretrial hearing in the finance suit, scheduled for May 1, has been postponed until July while the plaintiffs wait to see how the Senate and the Governor proceed, said Arthur Nighswander, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "We'll meet with the judge and decide whether to go ahead with the complaint, amend it, or drop it," he said.

Right now, "everyone seems to be just marking time," he said.--jrs

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