Friday, September 7, 2007

Suing school districts unhappy with state's position

The article at the bottom of this post appeared in the Union Leader.

The only ones who are going to benefit from this court case our the employees of the school districts and any businesses doing business with the schools. This lawsuit is about one thing and one thing only, taking as much money out of our pockets and putting it into school employees pockets. Adequacy lawsuits never result in increased student performance. This is about greed not need. Our schools have a spending problem not a funding problem.

If only our congressmen and judges did a little research before handing done this insane decision students and taxpayers would have a brighter future.

The Confidence Men
By Eric Hanushek
Selling adequacy, making millions

Suing school districts unhappy with state's position
The Associated Press
Friday, Sep. 7, 2007

CONCORD – A coalition of towns suing New Hampshire over school funding wants the state Supreme Court to make lawmakers determine its cost and come up with a way to pay for it by June 30.

The coalition -- led by Londonderry -- is reacting to the state's request last month that the court dismiss the lawsuit without requiring it to come up with funding by next June.

The state argues that the Legislature has completed the first of four mandates set down by the court needed to settle the long battle over school funding -- defining an adequate education -- and is working on the second mandate -- determining its cost.

If the court decides not to dismiss the case, the state asked the court to put off any proceedings while lawmakers determine the cost of the state's share of school costs.

The towns want guarantees that whatever cost the Legislature settles on is funded next spring, not left to a future Legislature.

The latest arguments are in response to a July request by the court on whether the case should be sent back to the lower court.

The coalition said it would not push for the court to step in now if the state promised to fulfill the three remaining court mandates -- determine the state's cost, fund it and hold districts accountable to deliver it -- also by next June 30. The districts accepted the definition enacted by lawmakers.

The state only promised to determine the cost.

Now, the coalition is saying the state is failing to act in good faith.

"This inability or lack of desire to comply with a series of court rulings over the past 20 years is detrimental to the continued health and viability of the public education system and, in turn, the economy of our great state," the coalition said in a statement released Wednesday.

"Our good faith effort was that we defined an adequate education without regard to steps two, three and four and our good faith continues with the costing commission," House Speaker Terie Norelli responded yesterday.

The state has struggled over the school funding issue for years.

In 1991, Claremont and four other property-poor towns sued over the state's reliance on local property taxes to pay for schools. A series of Supreme Court decisions held that the state has a duty to provide an adequate education that is adequately funded.

A key 1997 ruling found the state's reliance on local property taxes for most school funding unconstitutional.

Last year, Londonderry and a group of towns won a lawsuit in superior court over the aid system put in place in 2005. The state appealed and the high court sided with the towns. (That funding system has since been replaced with an interim one to give lawmakers time to craft a better system.)

Last September, the court left the aid system in place but set the June 30, 2007, deadline for the state to define an adequate education. The court reiterated its four long-standing mandates that the state must meet to comply with the constitution: define an adequate education, price it, pay for it and hold towns accountable for delivering it. The court has said the amount need not be the same for every pupil, but emphatically rejected aid systems that help only selected towns.

Gov. John Lynch signed a law June 29 that defined adequacy. The definition includes subject areas, such as math and reading, without tying them to the hours taught or other specific cost components. It also mandates kindergarten.

Lynch would like to target aid to the neediest towns, but a constitutional amendment he needed to allow that died in the House this year. Senate Democrats tried to revive the amendment, but lacked the votes to pass it and decided to wait until January to try again. Lynch says he hasn't given up on putting an amendment before voters in November 2008.

A special legislative commission has just started working on determining the cost of adequacy.

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