Jaffrey-Rindge to consider joining ConVal’s state funding lawsuit

  • The Jaffrey-Rindge School District will consider joining the ConVal School District's lawsuit. The School Board decided Monday to have Superintendent Reuben Duncan gather information so a decision can be made at a future meeting. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • The Jaffrey-Rindge School District will consider joining the ConVal School District's lawsuit. The School Board decided Monday to have Superintendent Reuben Duncan gather information so a decision can be made at a future meeting. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/3/2019 4:44:15 PM

The Jaffrey-Rindge School District is considering whether to join the ConVal School District’s lawsuit against the state to increase adequacy aid funding.

The district’s school board met with ConVal School Board members Rich Cahoon and Richard Dunning on Monday to discuss the lawsuit. A decision has been delayed until a future meeting, so the district has time to investigate the lawsuit and what the partnership would look like. 

“So far this is a largely southwestern New Hampshire endeavor,” ConVal School Board vice chair Rich Cahoon said. “I think that’s not a coincidence because we share a lot of demographic and fiscal characteristics … we would certainly welcome participation from the Jaffrey-Rindge District.”

ConVal announced last month that it filed a lawsuit with the Cheshire Superior Court in Keene, arguing that the state should provide $10,843.60 in base adequacy per student rather than the $3,606.36 that it currently provides to provide a constitutionally adequate education. 

The Winchester School District has joined the lawsuit as a co-petitioner, while the Monadnock Regional School District has joined the lawsuit in a yet to be defined capacity. 

Much of the school board’s discussion on Monday centered around an upcoming school dissolution study’s impact on joining the lawsuit. On March 12, Rindge residents voted to have the district study the feasibility and suitability of dissolving the school district.

“If the district no longer persists, any commitment to this endeavor falls by the wayside,” board vice chair Charlie Eicher said. 

Eicher said he wanted to talk to some of his constituents about the lawsuit and said he thought discussions about joining the lawsuit at this time are premature. 

School Board chair Laurel McKenzie questioned Cahoon about the potential length of the lawsuit, acknowledging that any dissolution in the future could impact the district’s relationship to the lawsuit. 

“What it should not be is the six-year process of the initial Claremont decision,” Cahoon said. “We are not establishing a constitutional precedent, we’re just asking that it be applied. We’re doing this on the basis of the state’s own data.”

The board also discussed the fallout from voters turning down a $2.1 million bond for parking lot renovations at Jaffrey Grade School and Rindge Memorial School. 

McKenzie said the district is going to try to fix potholes and drainage issues at the elementary schools, but it has been determined that no general fund money can be used to make improvements because “no means no” after a vote has been taken.

“This startles and disheartens me," McKenzie said. 

McKenzie said she has submitted questions to the district’s attorney to figure out if the district can do anything to make improvements. 

Conant junior Isabelle Ferguson, the school board’s student representative, asked if students would be able to fundraise money for parking lot improvements, but McKenzie said it wasn’t the students’ job. 

“I am amazed at the fundraising efforts the students take on and execute now. It’s impressive,” McKenzie said. “This is not a job students should have to raise money for. This is the community’s job. The community this spring said no and it’s really disheartening.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. 


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