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

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Committee Urges Passage of Coalition's Targeted Aid Plan

March 6, 2003

A major legislative committee said Thursday the Coalition Communities' targeted aid grants education funding plan should be approved by the New Hampshire Legislature, a welcome endorsement in the effort to finally solve the State's education funding dilemma.

The House Ways and Means Committee, on an overwhelming 15-6 vote, gave HB717 an "ought to pass" recommendation. The bill now will be sent to the full House to be hopefully referred to the House Finance Committee in the next step of the legislative process. Thursday's vote came three days after the Ways and Means Committee continued hearing testimony on the Coalition plan.

"This is great news for the citizens of New Hampshire, who now must let their lawmakers know that they need to resolve this problem once and for all, and move on to the other important matters facing our State, " said Ted Jankowski, director of the Coalition of 34 municipalities.

"This is a plan that can be implemented today, that makes sense and uses the latest facts and figures to make sure the neediest New Hampshire towns get the extra money they need to guarantee what we all want for our children - equal education opportunity," he said.

The Coalition Communities last year assembled a team of nationally recognized education funding experts to develop an education funding formula that is sustainable over the long term and targets aid to the communities that need it most. 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.

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. A whopping 84 percent of the NH communities with above average median household income are designated as 'receiver' towns.

"I want to thank the members of the House Ways and Means Committee for their wisdom and courage today, and I feel confident that when the other members of the Legislature become as knowledgeable about this bill as the members of House Ways and Means that they, too, will have the courage to vote for this plan to solve the education funding crisis," said Rep. Edmond Gionet, the bill's sponsor and a Republican from the "donor" town of Lincoln, which has the state's lowest median household income.

The Coalition's package 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. 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