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Franklin and Northfield urge towns to collectively demand education funding overhaul

Franklin and Northfield are calling for a new education funding formula, declaring the current formula unfair and, if fully implemented, “unconstitutional,” reported the Concord Monitor. House Bill 2, passed in 2015, phases out districts’ stabilization grants over the next 25 years, disproportionately affecting lower-income towns. Stabilization grants help protect districts that lose students so they don’t lose too much money too quickly. The state has also reduced the amount of money for special education students, which affects lower-income towns.

In Pittsfield, the stabilization grant represents half of the $8 million in state funding for their schools. Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield is rallying other towns affected by the changes, saying it could force districts to close schools:

“I believe that if current state law does not change, and we lose half of our state aid, we will not be able to run a school… I think that children and taxpayers should be treated fairly. And I think that the current state law, if fully implemented, there’s no way that that’s constitutional.”

The state has an obligation to provide an “adequate” education to all its students, according to a 1992 state Supreme Court case known as the Claremont decision. Andru Volinsky, who argued the case in 1992, said that New Hampshire may have to reconsider the entire formula, not just the stabilization grants:

“A funding formula that tops out adequacy at $3,450 when the average spending (per student) is $14,000 is on its face suspect… The fact that there’s a need for stabilization funds is really an indicator that the adequacy funding structure is not adequate.”

Mayor Merrifield is asking representatives from towns affected by the stabilization grant reduction to meet on Monday, November 14 at 6 p.m. at the Franklin Opera House.

Franklin has had a tough summer as the city tried to balance their municipal and school budget. Early in the budgeting process, they faced a $1.3 million budget deficit and had to use reserve funds to make up the difference. Catch up on the latest news here:

Read the full article here.


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