Better Education Funding

There has been quite a clamor for a new education funding lawsuit this cycle, and rhetoric like “hold the Legislature accountable”. Fair enough, but have any of those folks addressed all the work that has been done on this issue this past Session? I supported two measures that would have repealed or frozen the reductions in adequacy aid due to stabilization grant reductions. When it became clear that these were not going to pass, we formed a joint committee to work through the objections. They boiled down to two.

  1. Stabilization grants are based on 2011 student populations. It is unfair and poor practice to send grants based on inaccurate student numbers which change over time.
  2. Freezing the reductions in the absence of a new plan is wrong because of the previous reason.

For a year and a half, this committee worked on a solution that respects the opposing points of view, while creating a solution for hard hit communities like Charlestown and Claremont. The new plan bases it’s numbers on current student populations, adjusted annually, and increases aid for property poor municipalities and places with high numbers of students receiving free and reduced lunch.

The committee produced recommendations which should be supported to increase aid. A summary from the report:

“It is therefore recommended by the committee that base adequacy be raised to $3,897 and differentiated aid for students eligible for free or reduced price lunch be raised to $2,500 with no change to special education funding, English language learner and to eliminate the money for those children who are in 3rd grade and reading below proficient level. These dollars would go to all municipalities to be spent on education.”

“The “Umberger” Education grant program is based upon equalized property valuation per student, and is designed to provide funding assistance to eligible school districts in support of academic growth and achievement in grades K-12. Grant recipients may expend grant funds in a manner which best fits local need, and grant funds are not restricted or targeted to any specific group.”

 Here are the numbers for an example.

ADM means number of students (Average Daily Membership)
F&R means number of students eligible for free and reduced lunch

Charlestown factors:
ADM=617
F&R=276
Grant eligibility – $2500/student

Charlestown Numbers under the new system:
Base adequacy – 617*3897 = $2,404,449 +
F&R differentiated 276*2500= $690,000 +
Umberger grant – 617*2500= $1,542,500

Total aid to Charlestown based on 2017 ADM = $4,636,949

Claremont factors:
ADM=1632
F&R=819
Grant eligibility – $2500/student

Claremont Numbers under the new system:
Base adequacy – 1632*3897 = $6,359,904 +
F&R differentiated 819*2500= $2,047,500 +
Umberger grant – 1632*2500= $4,080,000

Total aid to Claremont based on 2017 ADM = $12,487,404

Ask your local officials if this is a better deal than they are getting now. We believe it is a giant step forward. The objections have been overcome by creating a new formula that will be based on current student populations, recognizes that property poor municipalities need extra help, and recognizes that there can be additional challenges with communities having a high percentage of free lunch eligible students.

For specific numbers for communities other than these two, you can contact me at nhfirst@gmail.com or 603-826-5940.

Rep. Steven Smith

 

About Rep. Steven Smith

Steven Smith is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, serving his fifth term. Rep. Smith currently represents Acworth, Charlestown, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, and Washington. Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the Sullivan County Delegation.
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