Hi 25° | Lo 19°

New Hampshire Views: Is it time for Claremont III?

As the Dover School Board considers the possibility of suing the state for inadequately funding education, we would hope attorney Andru Volinsky is impressing upon board members the uphill climb which lies ahead.

On Monday, board members went into executive session to discuss strategy with Volinsky should legislative efforts fail to garner the money Dover believes it is due. It was Volinsky who served as lead counsel for the historic court case, Claremont School District v. Governor of New Hampshire.

In short, the state Supreme Court ruled in 1993 the New Hampshire Constitution – as the result of the word “cherish” – required the state to fund first to last dollar of an adequate public education.

Then in 2006 under what is known as Claremont II, filed by Londonderry, the court issued four mandates as a result of the state’s refusal or inability to comply with its earlier ruling: Define an adequate education, determine the cost, fund it with constitutional taxes (what became the statewide property tax) and ensure its delivery through accountability (i.e. setting minimal educational standards).

In the wake of the 2006 decision, attorney Ed Mosca, who has closely followed the case, wrote: After holding “the current education funding and ‘definitional’ statutory framework falls well short of the constitutional requirements established in this court’s Claremont decisions,” the court went on to set a deadline for the representative branches to “define with specificity the components of a constitutionally adequate education,” and threatened that “(s)should they fail to do so, we will then be required to take further action to enforce the mandates of Part II, Article 83.”

What Dover faces should it seek to write the next chapter in this saga is the argument New Hampshire has done what the court ordered. It has defined, determined, funded, ensured delivery of the funds and set standards.

The state will further argue whether Dover is getting what is deserves is a matter of opinion, not judicial review.

Mind you, we think the state’s case is malarkey, although the court might be fooled into believing the state has dotted its i’s and crossed its t’s. That is if you buy into the false notion the state’s base funding amount is “adequate” at $3,450 per student when the statewide average K-12 per pupil cost was $13,159.15 in 2012.

Dover should also be concerned because the court has changed much since 1993 and even 2006.

When the 1993 Claremont ruling came down, David Brock was chief justice. There has been some sense over the years among court watchers that Brock was a bit of an activist, something we don’t see on today’s high court.

As for the court’s involvement in 2006 under Chief Justice John Broderick, it can be argued his court acted appropriately by taking the next logical step – putting teeth in the 1993 ruling – and in doing so went as far as one co-equal branch of government can go in forcing another (the Legislature) to behave.

One aspect, however, which might heighten the court’s willingness to revisit Claremont is how widely it can be argued the Legislature has abused the court mandate.

If most of the nearly 30 school districts shortchanged along with Dover are willing to pony up the money for a fight, we could summon a degree of optimism.

Before that happens, we hope the Legislature owns up to its responsibility and distributes state money in a fair fashion.

Legacy Comments14

For a couple of decades and more we have heard that we need a sales and income tax to fund "education". Well, many kids have graduated and grown up to be very successful. To the tax and spend Chicken Little's, the sky has not fallen and it is not falling now. Truth be told, progressives don't care about your money, they care about getting more money out of your wallet to experiment socially and redistribute your hard earned money to others. Your property taxes may go down for a year or two but long term we will be saddled with more and more and more taxes. Progressives LOVE to spend YOUR money folks!

Income tax to pay for public education....

Income tax, Sales Tax, or Statewide Property Tax aside. The real issue is that education in this state is currently dependent on where you live. The state needs to take control of school budgets and resources and ensure that all schools in the state have the same level of facilities, textbooks, and quality teachers. We can not as a state or a nation have differing levels of education for different economic or social groups based upon where they live. Education is one way to end the cycle of poverty. ending that cycle will decrease the amount if tax dollars spent on social programs and increase the revenue of taxes that in the long run could result in lower taxes for all.

I agree with everything you have to say here say-what. It keeps getting pushed onto the property owners as the state won't deal with it under the guise of local control. It's time the State Board of Education took on some real meaning and took state control over the school system which includes funding appropriately. Keep the religious right out of the publicly funded school system. Should you want religion in your child's education then by all means send them to your church inspired school which will be overseen by the State Board of Education.

Game, set and match: GRACCHUS!!!!!

Mt Royal Private School = ~6,000 gets you a superior education.....down the road at Sunapee Govt indroctination school at ~$19,000 - not so much

Point 1. Your cherished private school can refuse to admit any child it wants.

Point 2. Private schools can expel any student at any time for any reason.

Point 3. Public schools - not "Govt indroctination [sic] school" - have what are sometimes astronomical Special Ed costs which your private school does not.

I forgot to add liberal UNION govt indoctrination sanitoriums

Point 4. Public schools must deal with just about every demand from parents and/or local interest groups, regardless how absurd. Often they lead to costly litigation.

Point 5. Did you forget to mention that your beloved Mount Royal Academy has the backing of the biggest sugar daddy of them all, the Roman Catholic Church? Or do you want us to believe that six grand really covers all the costs?

Check your accusation for false facts

Meanwhile, at those Christian fundamentalist schools the state is underwriting thanks to property tax credits business can get for giving money to NH's "voucher" program, students can get a "superior" education in biblical literalism, but little in the way of real science. Here's a link to the first page of an actual 4th grade science test at a S. Carolina Christian school.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.