Two members of School Funding Commission call Senate’s proposed budget ‘a backward step away from fairness and student equity’

The Commission to Study School Funding Photo: Carsey School of Public Policy

In an Op-Ed published in In-Depth NH this week, two members of the Commission to Study School Funding characterize the state budget passed last week by the NH Senate as ‘a backward step’ that will further widen opportunity gaps around the state.

“The Senate budget would have the effect of increasing state aid to the communities that are already offering above average student opportunities.  And it would do very little to help more needy communities,” Rep. David Luneau (D-Hopkinton) and Bill Ardinger, a Concord attorney, wrote in an Op-Ed published on Tuesday, June 8.

Both authors were members of the Commission to Study School Funding, a commission established during the 2019 legislative session to research school funding in the state and make recommendations to the Legislature. Over the course of a year, the Commission, contracting with an independent research group, scrutinized the current school funding formula and developed recommendations for reform. Its final report, published last December, recommended a shift in state aid to address the opportunity gap hidden beneath the state’s overall positive student outcomes.

In contrast with that report, the proposed budget “provides a new $15.2 million special grant to 44 of the most property-wealthy towns,” Luneau and Ardinger wrote. “We believe that such a step will invite heightened scrutiny by the courts of our public education funding system.  It is contrary to the fundamental holdings of the Claremont cases – that the State must distribute state aid in a manner that provides an equal opportunity for good public educations for all of New Hampshire’s children.”

Read the full article here.