Happening Today: Live Q&A with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Register to attend.
Education Funding

N.H. School-Finance Ruling Appealed After Judge Finds System Acceptable

By Linda Jacobson — January 15, 1997 2 min read

Five school districts in New Hampshire are appealing to the state supreme court after a superior court judge upheld the state’s school finance system.

A notice of appeal was filed in the New Hampshire Supreme Court earlier this month by the Claremont Lawsuit Coalition--five poor school districts that launched the suit against then-Gov. Stephen Merrill in 1991.

The districts have argued that New Hampshire, which spends far less than any other state on public education, is violating the state constitution by not providing an adequate education or sufficient school funding.

Because local property taxes generate roughly 90 percent of education funding in the state, there are significant disparities between districts.

Children in the poorer schools don’t have the same opportunities and are not as successful as those in areas with a richer tax base, the plaintiffs’ lawyers argued.

But Merrimack Superior Court Judge George L. Manias saw things differently.

Judge Manias originally dismissed the case in 1992. But the coalition successfully appealed that decision to the supreme court, forcing the judge to hear the case.

After a seven-week trial earlier last year which detailed the plight of New Hampshire’s poorest schools, Judge Manias issued his decision on Dec. 6. He ruled that the districts failed to prove that the state is not fulfilling its responsibility and that the courts need to step in.

He noted, however, that his ruling “should not be construed as a judicial endorsement of the current public school system, its method of funding, or the operation of the department of education.”

Those matters are for the governor and the legislature to address, he wrote.

Thomas Hersey, a spokesman for the coalition, said he wasn’t surprised by the verdict.

“We had to expect it. Any time you take on the state, it’s tough,” he said.

Governor May Tackle System

Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a former teacher and a Democrat who took office this month, signaled during her campaign that she was interested in discussing a settlement with the plaintiffs.

Todd Quinn, her press secretary, said last week that regardless of the case, she still wants to increase state education aid.

“Governor Shaheen is going to pay more attention to education issues” than Mr. Merrill did, Mr. Hersey added.

Leslie J. Ludtke, the associate attorney general who argued the case before Judge Manias, said that simply boosting state funding won’t erase the inequities between districts.

“You have to be blind not to see that there are disparities and differences,” she said. “Differences will be present in any system that has a local component to it.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding States Are Waffling Over Billions in K-12 Federal Relief. Schools Are Getting Antsy.
Schools in some states have already started spending money from recent federal stimulus packages. Others don’t yet have the dollars in hand.
6 min read
Conceptual image of money dropping into a jar.
iStock/Getty
Education Funding Opinion The COVID-19 Stimulus Money Won’t Last Forever. Here’s What's Next for Schools
There are three important first steps for states to start helping schools prepare now, write two policy experts.
Zahava Stadler & Victoria Jackson
5 min read
a group of people water a lightbulb plant, nurturing an idea
iStock/Getty Images
Education Funding Opinion What Ed. Leaders Can Learn From a Wildfire About Spending $129 Billion in Federal Funds
There are five entrenched routines that leaders should reject to forge a better path forward after the pandemic.
Kristen McQuillan
4 min read
Firefighters fighting fire
akiyoko/iStock/Getty
Education Funding Opinion Does Place-Based Giving Make It Harder for Funders to Get Reliable Feedback?
Big donors can be lulled into underestimating the financial, political, and information constraints of place-based philanthropy.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty