New Hampshire Attorney General Refuses to Defend Funding Suit

in New Hampshire, New Hampshire Litigation, NEWS FROM THE ACCESS NETWORK

The office of Joseph Foster, the Attorney General of New Hampshire, announced last week that they would not defend a state law that caps increases in state aid that growing school districts can receive each year.

In the wake of  Claremont v. State, and other education adequacy rulings of the state supreme court, New Hampshire Litigation History, the legislature had revised its school funding formula. Many of the changes benefited low income districts, but in 2011 the legislature also placed a cap on the increase in the amount of state adequacy aid that districts could receive.  The current cap is 108%.  The city of Dover filed a law suit earlier this year alleging that this cap deprives its students, and students in 79 other districts with enrollment growth, of funding needed to provide them an adequate education.  Dover claims that it has been deprived of $14 million since the state first implemented the cap.

Some low income  communities such as Manchester that have declining enrollments benefit from a companion stabilization fund, which limits the amount that their adequacy grants can be reduced because of declining enrollments

Assistant Attorney General Anne Edwards said the office does not believe that it is constitutional for the state to provide districts less than lawmakers have determined that it takes to provide an adequate education.

However, both the House Speaker and the Senate President have intervened in the case to defend the cap statute. Senate President Chuck Morse stated that “Any law the Legislature passes and votes on should be defended.” The attorney general and the governor are both Democrats. The legislative leaders are Republicans.

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