‘The waiting is over,’ Winchester joins ConVal fight for adequate funding

Published: 3/22/2019 4:47:20 PM
Statement from Winchester School District:

Last night at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Winchester School District, the Winchester School Board voted unanimously to partner with the Contoocook Valley School District’s educational funding litigation. The School Board, through its attorney, Michael Tierney, will be filing an Amended Petition and a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction today in Cheshire Superior Court.

The Winchester School District’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction mirrors that of the ConVal District using the State’s own formula and the State’s own data, to demonstrate how the State’s base adequacy funding falls far short of constitutionally sufficient funding for the children of the Winchester School District or New Hampshire. The NH Supreme Court deciding on the Claremont case twenty years ago stated it is the state’s responsibility to meet its constitutional responsibility to provide an adequate education. And we’ve waited, and waited, and waited. Until we realized, after twenty years, that the State is still not funding the cost of an adequate education.

The State’s current adequacy funding of only $3,636.06 per child does not fund the actual costs incurred by Winchester. Winchester’s average per pupil cost is many times this amount.

Why the discrepancy? Because the State formula does not fund the actual transportation costs, does not apply the actual teacher-student ratios, does not accurately reflect the actual benefits required by the State, does not provide any funding for school nurses, superintendent services, or food services as required by state law, and provides less than 20% of the actual statewide average facilities operations and maintenance costs. Hence it derives a number that falls far short of a constitutionally sufficient funding for the children of Winchester, ConVal School District or New Hampshire. While it may provide temporary relief to some communities, it does little to provide permanent, guaranteed adequacy, and is not a permanent solution to a decades long problem.

The Winchester School District agrees with the Contoocook Valley School District that the time is now for real change or witness the slow extinction, one by one, of our local schools with no reduction relief from our property tax. Now is the time for the State to fulfill its promise to our children and to bring relief to the local taxpayers. Consequently, this is a request for injunctive relief in the amount of $10,891.73 per pupil by April 1st. The waiting is over.

ConVal School District response:

The ConVal School District welcomes Winchester’s participation, and thanks the Winchester Board for taking this important step to ensure that every child in New Hampshire has access to a constitutionally adequate education. That a third district has joined this movement so quickly is further indication of the importance of this issue. This shows the increasingly difficult positions of New Hampshire school districts as they seek to provide equitable education.

We look forward to working with the Winchester School District in this important action to hold the State accountable for its constitutional obligation.

Previous coverage:Monadnock Regional School District joins ConVal’s school funding lawsuit26 years after Claremont, ConVal sues for adequate funding
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