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N.H. Judge Rules Method of Funding School Aid Is Unconstitutional

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A judge has ruled that New Hampshire's current method of funding public schools is unconstitutional, two decades after a series of court decisions that said the state has a duty to provide and pay for an adequate education.

The decision last week by Superior Court Judge David Ruoff follows a lawsuit by the ConVal, Mascenic, Winchester, and Monadnock districts against the state. It argues that the goal hasn't been accomplished.

State law sets the current base adequacy aid for all schools at $3,563 per student, based on a formula determined by a legislative committee in 2008. Ruoff wrote that the parties agree "that not a single school in ... New Hampshire could or does function" at that amount per student. What's more, he said the amount is inaccurate, based on calculations by lawmakers that don't take into account the real costs of transportation, teachers, or facilities. But he stopped short of picking a number, noting that "such a decision should not rest in the hands of judges."

Both the state House and Senate want to set up a commission to study new approaches to education funding. It also would study whether the funding formula complies with court decisions.

Vol. 38, Issue 35, Pages 4-5

Published in Print: June 12, 2019, as N.H. Judge Rules Method of Funding School Aid Is Unconstitutional
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