Mascenic School District joins ConVal lawsuit over education funding

On Thursday, April 18, the Mascenic Regional School Board unanimously voted to join Contoocook Valley (ConVal), Monadnock Regional, and Winchester School Districts in their lawsuit against the State of New Hampshire over the amount that the state provides for adequate education grants. In 2018, the state provided $3,636 per student, which it determined to be the cost of the opportunity for an adequate education. The districts claim this figure does not reflect the true cost of education in the state.

Read more about adequate education grants and how we pay for our public schools here.

“There is no responsibility more important than ensuring that all of our children receive an adequate education in preparing for their future,” commented Dr. Stephen Russell, the Superintendent of the MRSD, in a press release. MRSD serves students in the towns of Greenville and New Ipswich.

“We believe that adequate levels of school funding should not be determined through an arbitrary process of ‘pick and choose’ dependent on the subjective judgment of others. Adequate levels of school funding should be based upon the data compiled annually, by the Department of Education on the actual costs districts incur in providing services,” Dr. Russell continued.

“We would like to thank the Mascenic School Board and Dr. Russell for joining us in this important fight to ensure that all New Hampshire children have access to the education they deserve,” said Rich Cahoon, ConVal School Board member, in a statement to Reaching Higher NH.

On March 13, 2019, the ConVal School District filed a suit with the Cheshire County Superior Court against the State of New Hampshire, claiming that the $3,636 per student in adequate education grants that state provides is not sufficient to offer children the opportunity for an adequate education. In their lawsuit, they requested $21.5 million in immediate monetary relief from the state.

A few weeks later, the Monadnock Regional and Winchester School Districts joined the lawsuit.

“It’s time to take some action to hold New Hampshire accountable for providing an adequate education – to provide the funding for it… We’ve done the waiting and seeing for legislative action,” Monadnock Superintendent Lisa Witte told reporters in March after the press release was released.

On April 5, the Cheshire Superior Court judge denied the districts’ request for the additional funding, saying that the school districts would not face irreparable harm. However, he said, the dispositive motions must be filed by late April and responses filed by early May.

If the case is not disposed of before then, there will be a final hearing scheduled for the week of June 3. According to Judge Ruoff, the Court would resolve the matter by June 30, the day when the NH Department of Education is set to make the final payment to school districts for state funding.