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

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June 8, 2004

PORTSMOUTH - Calling it a "sad day for the State of New Hampshire," Mayor Evelyn Sirrell said the 34-member Coalition of Communities will redouble its efforts to work with the Legislature to implement a permanent education funding solution to replace the plan that became law Tuesday.

"We continue to believe the only way to prevent the nearly annual ritual of education funding confusion and chaos is to implement our five-year foundation aid plan, known as House Bill 717, along with a constitutional amendment," said Sirrell, the leader of the group. "We plan to try to work with the Governor and the Legislature to make sure that we all do what is best for the State of New Hampshire."

Representatives of the Coalition Communities met Tuesday night in a non-public session to hear a report on the group's legal options in the wake of the Legislature's last-minute decision to implement a totally new formula reinstating "Donor" towns. Meanwhile, several other non-Donor communities across the State, including Manchester, are exploring their options because they will receive far less funding than expected.

"We had a very good meeting and we have a lot to consider," she said following the session. "We will be contacting the rest of our Coalition members who could not be here tonight. As always, our primary goal is to protect the interests of our members. And if any other community files suit against this new law, you can be sure that we will be reviewing it and taking every step necessary to protect our communities."

The Mayor reiterated her objections to the new formula.

"This is a very sad day for the State of New Hampshire. This horrible law gives more money to the richest towns in New Hampshire, and less to the poorest. It gives 'targeted aid' to the three richest communities in our State and has created a financial crisis in towns everywhere that already had developed their budgets. It eliminates extra funding for the higher costs of educating high school students, special education students and English as a second language students.

"This is a shameful way to treat our children, our schools and our communities."

"Less than 30 days before the start of the new fiscal year, so many communities are faced with the possibility of slashing jobs and programs -- and raising taxes -- because of these last-minute, political shenanigans. Real people being affected by these political games.

"This bill was developed in secret - without even one public hearing. The Legislature could have simply fixed the current law instead of voting to give more money to towns that don't need any extra funds to educate their schoolchildren. These towns are now happily trying to decide what to do with this windfall. Unfortunately, our children and our elderly are going to suffer while they celebrate."

The Mayor said the Coalition will continue to fight for a long-term solution. She urged all communities across the State to carefully question candidates for the Legislature and Governor about their views on education funding, and to ask them to support the Coalition's plan that truly targets aid to the neediest communities, uses available resources and is sustainable over the long term.


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