MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Manchester School District will be joining the Con-Val School District and several other school districts across the state as co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the State of New Hampshire regarding education funding.
Filed in March 2019, the lawsuit claims that the state government does not meet its duty in the state constitution to provide an adequate education to all New Hampshire residents, echoing earlier lawsuits regarding educational funding such as the Claremont case.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled against the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, sending it back to Superior Court.
After approximately 30 minutes of non-public deliberations, the Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) re-emerged on Monday in resounding support of joining the lawsuit.
Leslie Want (Ward 4) saw the effort as a way to help relieve the burden off local taxpayers when it comes to education costs, echoing a citation of a recent Concord Monitor article by Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig stating that New Hampshire has the lowest state aid and the highest local contribution toward education in the U.S.
Despite the lawsuit being noted as a “David vs. Goliath” struggle, members of the BOSC felt that it was morally imperative to force the state to shoulder what they saw as its burden to properly educate students.
“The state is willing to spend millions of dollars on lawyers and legal fees instead of students, which is unfortunate,” said Jeremy Dobson (Ward 5). “I am fully behind putting the weight of the Manchester School District behind showing that we are underfunded and we have been underfunded.”
“The State of New Hampshire is not living up to it’s responsibility to adequately fund public education. said Mayor Craig, who serves as Chair of the Board of School Committee. “By joining this suit, the Board of School Committee is fighting for not only our students, but our local property taxpayers, who have been stuck making up the difference for far too long.”
The motion to become a co-plaintiff in the case passed 12-0, with Peter Perich (Ward 8), Jane Beaulieu (Ward 10) and Kelly Thomas (Ward 12) absent.
Manchester joins ConVal, Claremont, Derry, Fall Mountain, Grantham, Hillsboro-Deering, Mascenic, Monadnock, Newport, Oyster River, Winchester and Mascoma, with Mascoma voting to join the lawsuit earlier in the day.
As of March, 26 school districts across the state as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the New Hampshire School Boards Association signed onto an amicus brief in support of the suit.
School districts across the state have until May 21 to join as co-plaintiffs.