Speaker O’Brien announces education funding reform committee
New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien released details today on a newly-formed committee tasked with tackling proposed reforms to the education funding system at the state level. Both Speaker O’Brien and Senate President Peter Bragdon have listed education funding reform, potentially in the shape of a Constitutional amendment, among the top items on their respective agendas.
Full press release from the Speaker’s office:
O’BRIEN ANNOUNCES SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION FUNDING REFORM
CONCORD, NH—House Speaker William O’Brien today announced the establishment of the Special Committee on Education Funding Reform.
“The committee will consider all matters pertaining to the reform and revision of state funding of primary and secondary education,” said Speaker O’Brien.
Chairman of the Special Committee on Education Funding Reform, Rep. Lynne Ober of Hudson served six years on the Hudson School Board. “I am all too aware of the challenges facing school districts when they budget. I also know that 45 states have been sued over educational funding and that if any state could find a formula that solved all the education funding issues that all states would adopt that. I want this committee to listen to all ideas and work on finding a funding solution that will meet the needs of our New Hampshire students. It will be challenging and I fully recognize that the state’s own fiscal challenges will impact our work,” said Rep. Ober. “It is imperative that we find a solution that not only suits the needs of our children, but is fiscally sound enough to carry us into the future.”
Vice Chairman of the Committee, Rep. David Hess (R-Hooksett) added, “Education funding is the second largest category of state spending today—exceeding $1 billion a year. Yet it has never been systematically and comprehensively studied and evaluated to determine the effectiveness of the dollars spent. We must get out from under the fiscal straight-jacket imposed on state education funding by the Supreme Court to enable us to better target our financial resources to those programs, schools and students who most need it and can best benefit from it.”
Hess continued, “In particular, we must critically examine and improve our current funding formula for providing state education aid based on realistic, objective criteria. We must also evaluate every other existing program to ensure it is viable, accomplishes its goals, is not redundant, and remains relevant in today’s world. Finally, we must explore new initiatives, such as distance learning and achievement-based teacher tenure and compensation, to improve our current, good public education system. This is going to be exciting and groundbreaking work, and I am honored to have been selected to be a participant in this process.”
“My district has seen a 200% increase in foreclosures due in part to increasing property taxes. Responsible spending has to be our prime focus to decrease downshifting of costs on New Hampshire families,” said Rep. Jenn Coffey (R-Andover)
“As a school board member in Rochester I believe that education is the way to the future for my young constituents. I will be happy to work towards providing a high quality educational experience for all,” said Rep. Anne Grassie (D-Rochester).
“By targeting aid to those school districts that need additional assistance in lieu of fiscal disparity aid, we can create a win-win scenario for the state and local property tax payers,” said Rep. Richardson (D-Hopkinton).
“I look forward to open ended analysis of how to enhance education quality while bringing down expenses. This can and must be done,” said Rep. Paul Ingbretson (R-Pike).
The Special Committee on Education Funding Reform is one of three that Speaker O’Brien has implemented. The others include the Special Committee on Redistricting and the Special Committee on Public Employee Pensions Reform.
Members of the Special Committee on Education Funding Reform: Rep. Lynne M. Ober, Chairman, Rep. David W. Hess, Vice Chairman, Rep. Paul Ingbretson, Rep. Michael A. Balboni, Rep. Susan DeLemus, Rep. Andrew Renzullo, Rep. Connie M. Soucy, Rep. Edith A. Hogan, Rep. William S. Belvin, Rep. Jennifer R. Coffey, Rep. Gary L. Daniels, Rep. Laura J. Gandia, Rep. Robert A. Foose, Rep. Gary B. Richardson, Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, Rep. Anne C. Grassie