BY: Citizens Count
According to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the constitution requires state government to fund an adequate education for every public school student.
As a result, New Hampshire has a statewide property tax to fund education. School districts get a set amount of state money per pupil. Districts may get additional money for English language learners, free and reduced lunch students, and some other factors.
Some policymakers would like New Hampshire to amend its constitution to return to a system of all local funding for schools.
Problems with statewide education funding
According to critics, the current statewide education funding system raises taxes without improving education.
The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies reports that the difference in per-pupil spending between rich towns and poor towns is just as large as it was in the 1990s, before the state started funding schools. This shows that statewide taxes and funding do not level the playing field between students in rich and poor districts.
Other opponents of statewide education funding argue that local control of education funding ensures tax dollars are spent as efficiently as possible, since schools are not guaranteed money based on the number of students.
Statewide funding guarantees quality
Supporters of statewide education funding argue that good public education benefits society as a whole, so it makes sense for residents to contribute to funding statewide.
Also, while the Center for Public Policy Studies found large differences in spending per pupil between districts, switching to all local funding will likely only increase the gap between students in rich and poor towns. A new statewide education funding formula might better target aid to needy towns.
Have your say
Do you think New Hampshire should eliminate statewide education funding, leaving cities and towns free to funds schools as they choose? Share your opinion in the comments below.