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

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Coalition Reacts to Ed Funding Developments

August 10, 2005

The Coalition of Communities Wednesday (Aug.10) expressed surprise at the Department of Education's spreadsheet interpretation of the new education funding law but not the lawsuit to overturn it filed by the NH Coalition for Adequate Funding of Education led by Londonderry.

Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, leader of the Coalition Communities, said her group is studying both documents.

"We were shocked to discover that the Department of Education has interpreted the new education funding law as requiring that there be three Donor towns rather than just one," said Mayor Sirrell. "That was not what the Legislature intended when it approved House Bill 616.

"We will be looking into this further and already have calls in to the Department of Education, the Governor's Office and the bill's prime sponsor - Senator Ted Gatsas - to try to get some answers."

DOE says New Castle must send $288,440 in excess Statewide Property Taxes to Concord for redistribution to other towns, Hebron must send $114,699 and Jackson, $91,417.

Sirrell said, however, that the Coalition was not surprised by the CAFE lawsuit.

"It was not unexpected that these communities are turning to the courts to overturn an education funding formula passed by the elected Legislature after months of work," said Mayor Sirrell. "We trust the courts will continue to act based on what's best for all of the schoolchildren in our State and all of our taxpayers, mindful of New Hampshire's economic capacity to fund education.

"This time, the court also will be able to look to an education funding ruling earlier this year in Massachusetts, which has a nearly identical constitution to ours in terms of education, that upheld the concept of targeting aid to the neediest communities," she said.

The Coalition of Communities is comprised of 34 towns stretching from one end of the State to the other that have high property values even though two-thirds have median household incomes below the State average. Since the Statewide Property Tax was instituted in 1999, Donor towns have been forced to raise $160.7 million in excess property taxes to be distributed to other communities - many of which were wealthier by every standard other than per-pupil property wealth. HB616 includes an income factor in determining a community's need. Wednesday's DOE interpretation would add another $494,556.

The 34-member Coalition of Communities is comprised of Alton, Bridgewater, Carroll, Center Harbor, Dublin, Easton, Eaton, Franconia, Freedom, Grantham, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Hanover, Hart's Location, Hebron, Jackson, Lincoln, Meredith, Moultonborough, New Castle, New London, Newington, North Hampton, Pittsburg, Portsmouth, Rye, Sandwich, Seabrook, Stoddard, Sugar Hill, Sunapee, Tuftonboro and Waterville Valley. Contact information for each town can be found on the Coalition's web site, Click Here


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