Winchester School District joins ConVal’s lawsuit against the state

  • An aerial view of ConVal High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/25/2019 1:44:50 PM

The Winchester School District has joined ConVal’s fight against the state to increase the amount of money given to school districts throughout the state.

Winchester’s school board unanimously voted on Thursday night to join ConVal’s lawsuit as a partner. Recently filed court documents now naming the Winchester School District as a co-petitioner in the case.

“It’s heartbreaking to see this conversation year after year with no significant progress made,” Winchester School District Superintendent Kenneth R. Dassau said Monday.

The ConVal School District announced on March 13 that it had filed the lawsuit in the Cheshire Superior Court in Keene.

ConVal has argued in the lawsuit that the state should provide $10,843.60 in base adequacy per student, a far cry from the $3,606.36 currently provided and that the base adequacy funding formula does not prroperly account for things like transportation and maintenance costs.

“I think it’s really important to point out that the questions about adequacy are designed to ask the questions and put forth the complaint about how the adequacy formula has been calculated,” ConVal Superintendent Kimberly Saunders said Monday. “We’re not saying how the money should be raised.”

A hearing at the Cheshire Superior Court has been scheduled for Friday to discuss the two districts’ petitions for injunction, which ask the court to require the state to pay additional adequacy money to each school district for the 2018-19 school year.

Saunders said the goal of the injunction is to provide short-term relief, while the entirety of the lawsuit will hopefully create a long-term solution.

“To have an injunction like that happen, there needs to be a show of irreparable harm if the injunction isn’t granted,” Saunders said. “It’s the first step… this is short-term relief.”

Court documents show ConVal has requested nearly $17 million in additional funds, while Winchester has asked for $4.5 million.

The Winchester School District is the second school district to join the suit.

Wednesday the Monadnock Regional School District announced it was also joining the lawsuit, though Saunders said there have been no formal decisions as to Monadnock’s specific role in the suit.

“There are districts reaching out on a regular basis and asking questions,” Saunders said. “I would not be surprised to see more districts join as we progress.”

Dassau, who also serves as the superintendent for the Surry School District and the Sullivan School District, said he plans to have conversations with each district’s school board during their next board meetings.

“At the moment there are several bills in the state legislature that are pending that might provde relief,” Dassau said. “This lawsuit is not meant to distract from those initiatives. Those bills haven’t been settled or voted on. This is something that needs to be done now.”

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


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