CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an attempt by the state to dismiss the latest challenge in a decades-long debate over how to fund public schools, setting the case up for a trial to give school districts a chance to show how they need more financial resources.
In several landmark rulings in the 1990s, the court ruled that the state is required to provide and pay for an “adequate” education.
In response, the Legislature began sending each school district a set amount of aid per pupil — currently $3,636 — but four districts in southwestern New Hampshire sued the state and the education commissioner in 2019, arguing the formula used to set that amount is unconstitutional because it doesn’t account for the real costs of transportation, teachers or facilities.
A judge agreed but declined to order the amount be nearly tripled as the plaintiffs requested, prompting both sides to appeal to the high court.
In addition to rejecting the state’s call for dismissal, the court also reversed the judge’s order saying the current funding method is unconstitutional as applied to the schools. The court said the judge was wrong to use information that came from legislative history and analysis in arriving at that decision.
The court also took note of the state’s argument that the source of information the school districts used in the case didn’t distinguish between costs necessary to deliver an adequate education and costs that fall outside of that.