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New Hampshire judge rules public education funding system unconstitutional
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New Hampshire judge rules public education funding system unconstitutional

New Hampshire Superior Court Judge David Ruoff ruled Wednesday that lawmakers are violating the New Hampshire Constitution by not funding an appropriate education for students in the state’s districts. However, he also stated that the legislature was the proper governing body to rectify this issue.

Ruoff did not specify to the legislature what the formula for an adequate education should be, setting up potential legislative action to remedy the problem.

“Yet, as every court decision has similarly recognized, the Legislature is the proper governmental body to complete it. As has been the result in the past, the Court expects the Legislature to respond thoughtfully and enthusiastically to funding public education according to its constitutional obligation.”

The case began this spring when the ConVal, Mascenic, Winchester and Monadnock School Districts sued the state for inadequate education funding.

“According to the Petitioners, the actual cost of an education—based on Department of Education data—is approximately $18,901 per student. In this case, the Petitioners are asking the Court to set the base adequacy amount at $9,929 per student for fiscal year 2020 and $10,843.60 for 2019.”

New Hampshire state law currently sets amount of aid for all schools at $3,562.71 per student. Ruoff wrote “that not a single school in the State of New Hampshire could or does function” at that amount per student.

Although Ruoff did not specify a number for student aid in New Hampshire, he did award the school districts their attorney’s fees as part of his decision.