March 28, 2019
By now you have heard that the ConVal School District has filed a lawsuit against the state of New Hampshire. The state’s ever-increasing downshifting to towns and cities, has reached a breaking point. The ‘Claremont Decision’ of 1993 decided that “the State has the exclusive obligation to fund a constitutionally adequate education and that the State may not shift any of the constitutional responsibility to local communities.” For the past 26 years, there has been legislative work on interpreting the meaning and level of funding that constitutes “adequate.”
The numbers show a startling gap: the state provides a base adequacy payment of $3,636.06 per pupil. This amount is based on a formula that does not fund actual transportation costs, does not apply actual teacher/student ratios to classrooms, does not accurately reflect the benefits required by the state, does not include the cost of school nurses, superintendent services or food services—as required by state law, and provides less than 20% of the actual facilities operation and maintenance costs. Using the state’s own data, the cost according to its own formula, is $9,929 per pupil exclusive of transportation. ConVal’s per pupil cost, including transportation, (remember, we are a nine-town school district) is $10,843.60. The actual average per pupil cost across New Hampshire is $18,901.32.
We decided that we could sit or we could act. ConVal chose to take action. The State needs to ensure that not another generation’s education is put at risk by unstable and inequitable funding. The board and administration are committed to transparency and will be providing weekly updates and additional information on three social media platforms: FaceBook at ConVal Takes Action, Instagram at conval_takes_action, and Twitter at ConVal Takes Action. We will be holding information sessions in our nine communities as well, and will publish a list of days, times and locations.
We welcome your feedback, and look forward to talking to you about this step.
— The ConVal School Board