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Targeted Aid Plan Passes Another Major Hurdle

March 12, 2003

The targeted aid education funding plan supported by the Coalition Communities passed another major hurdle Wednesday when the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to send it on to the next step of the legislative process.

The House voted 209 to 135 to send HB717 to the House Finance Committee, which must evaluate legislation related to spending, for evaluation before the full House considers the measure again. Once approved, the measure would then go to the Senate for consideration.

"This is another major step for targeted aid and constitutes another welcome endorsement for this plan to settle the education funding crisis once and for all while making sure the neediest communities get help and all New Hampshire schoolchildren have equal education opportunity," said Ted Jankowski, Director of the 34-community Coalition.

"We urge all the lawmakers in Concord to put aside their political differences and support this well-researched and common-sense plan. This is a time for Republicans and Democrats to come together to work for the good of our schoolchildren and our State," Jankowski added.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Edmond Gionet, a Republican from Lincoln - which, ironically, is a "donor" under the current system even though it has the lowest median household income in the entire state. Meanwhile, 84 percent of the NH communities with above average median household income are "receivers."

The legislation, which the House Ways and Means Committee approved last week by an overwhelming 15-6 vote, was developed by a team of nationally recognized education funding experts assembled by the Coalition. The team was led by Dr. Daphne Kenyon, former president of the Josiah Bartlett Center, and the legislation was written by attorney Martin Gross.

The team double-checked its proposal and found that more than 80 percent of the students attending schools with above-average dropout rates and lower than average 3rd Grade English test scores would receive more funding under the plan than under the current system. The five original plaintiffs in the Claremont lawsuit also would fare better under the Coalition's plan than any other that has been proposed.

The Coalition's package gradually phases in a funding formula that targets grants based on a town's education needs and ability to finance them, and sets predictable controls on State costs. It calls for implementation of the new formula on July 1 and would be followed by a 6-year transition gradually adjusting each town's grant to reach a Targeted Aid Grants goal, with provisions in the formula that would allow regular updating if there are changes impacting a town's grant, such as changes in the number of students. The State's commitment to education initially would be set at the current statewide average and then grow at a reasonable, clear-cut rate tied to the Consumer Price Index and the student population.

A companion constitutional amendment, CACR13, is before the House Education Committee. The Coalition believes HB717 can stand alone, but is recommending a constitutional amendment to preclude future legal challenges and guarantee the state will continue to fund an adequate education for all NH schoolchildren.


 1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH, 03801, Tel: (603) 610-7281Fax: (603) 427-1575 Email: Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com