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

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Targeted Aid Plan Would Help Schools with High Dropout Rates, Low Scores

Feb. 21, 2003

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 Coalition Communities' Targeted Aid Grants education funding plan than under the current system, the group said Friday.

Coalition Communities Director Ted Jankowski said a team of educational funding experts went the extra step in double-checking its targeted aid grants proposal to ensure it would not only help poorer communities, but also their students. The team found 88 percent of students attending high schools with above average dropout rates would receive more funding, as would 80 percent of students at schools with worse than average performances on the 3rd Grade NH Educational Improvement and Assessment Program English tests.

"This is just one more reason why our package offers the best plan for solving this problem today," said Jankowski. "We've assembled a team of nationally recognized education funding experts and they've come up with a fact-based, extremely well-researched solution that will help our towns and our children.

"Under the current system, the State is funneling extra money into communities irregardless of whether it actually benefits their students or whether their parents have high incomes. In fact, 84 percent of the NH communities with above average median household income are designated as 'receiver' towns.

"Everyone knows there are major flaws with the current system. And there have been other proposals put forth to fix them. Unfortunately, they don't solve the problem over the long term nor do they take into consideration the students who might benefit most from increased attention at the beginning of their school careers or to keep them in high school. Our proposal does," Jankowski said.

The Coalition's package - developed after months of intensive research and evaluation of education funding formulas used in other states -- would ensure equal education opportunity to all N.H. schoolchildren, gradually phase in a funding formula that targets grants based on a town's education needs and ability to finance them, and set predictable controls on State costs.

The enabling legislation, HB717, is before the House Ways and Means Committee that will resume its hearing on the measure on March 3 and the supporting constitutional amendment, CACR13, is now in the House Education Committee. The Coalition, a group of 34 towns seeking a long-term, sustainable solution to the education funding dilemma, believes the package will solve the problem once and for all.

"We've invested the time and money to come up with a workable plan that makes sense today and also be part of the next budget. No one else has gone this far to try and solve this problem," said Jankowski. "We urge the legislative leadership to get behind this plan and help it become law."

The proposal calls for implementation of the new formula on July 1. It 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 present level and then grow at a reasonable, clear-cut rate tied to the Consumer Price Index and the student population. The package also includes a constitutional amendment that would allow citizens to give their stamp of approval to the plan after it is initially implemented.


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