On April 20, 2020, the ACLU of New Hampshire filed a "friend of the court" brief before the New Hampshire Supreme Court arguing that New Hampshire's current system for funding public education is unconstitutional and violates Part II, Articles 5 and 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution. 

As in Claremont Sch. Dist. v. Governor (“Claremont II”), 142 N.H. 462 (1997), New Hampshire’s current education funding system violates Part II, Article 5 of the New Hampshire Constitution because of the disproportionality of the property taxes levied to fund this system.  Indeed, the property tax disparities that exist today to fund education in New Hampshire are just as significant as those that existed in 1997 when the New Hampshire Supreme Court decided Claremont II and concluded that “the framers of the New Hampshire Constitution could not have intended the current funding system with its wide disparities.”  In short, New Hampshire—just as it was over 20 years ago—is again leaving behind students in property-poor school districts, which includes the state’s poorest and most vulnerable children. 

The brief also argues that New Hampshire's base adequacy aid award of approximately $3,700 per student is grossly inadequate, downshifts education costs to municipalities, and violates Part II, Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution.  It is obvious that no student in New Hampshire can be educated at a cost of $3,700 per student.  The State has not contested this.  The State—which includes the Department of Education—had ample opportunity, with vast amounts of educational information in its possession, to try to establish before the Superior Court with affidavits and other evidence that New Hampshire students could be adequately educated at the sole cost of approximately $3,700 per student.  The State apparently made little effort to do so.  This failure is because the inadequacy of this regime is apparent.

Attorney(s)

Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH Legal Director, Henry Klementowicz, ACLU-NH Staff Attorney

Date filed

April 20, 2020

Court

New Hampshire Supreme Court

Status

Pending

Case number

2019-0500