School Finance Law Passage Highlight for N.H. Legislature
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2007 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
New Hampshire lawmakers’ biggest accomplishment this year was passing a new school finance law—one that is expected to bring the state into compliance with the state supreme court ruling that declared the old law unconstitutional in 2006.
During the legislative session ending in June, Granite State lawmakers also retooled the state’s public-employee pension system, extended the deadline by which districts have to begin providing kindergarten, and trimmed $30 million out of the state’s biennial budget for 2008 and 2009, including $4 million from the department overseeing K-12 education.
The state is midway through its biennial budget of $10.3 billion, which includes $1.96 billion over two years in state aid to schools
After developing the new school funding formula during this year’s session, lawmakers will turn next year to deciding how to pay for it. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, opposed the school finance measure, and last month let it become law without his signature.
The kindergarten extension means that the handful of districts that still do not have kindergarten programs will have until next year to get those classes up and running. The measure lets those districts contract with private providers for up to four years as they develop their own programs.
The legislature also approved a measure that would let teachers continue to get raises when contract negotiations with towns or districts break down, and another setting up an arbitration route for teachers when a school district decides not to renew their contracts.
Vol. 27, Issue 44, Page 18