Derry School District Joins Towns in State Aid Lawsuit

By Alex Malm

DERRY – School districts large and small across the state have expressed their dissatisfaction with the amount of money they receive in state aid each year.

This has led to school districts joining a lawsuit recently filled by the ConVal School District seeking more funding from the state for school districts and for the state to change the funding formula.

During the May 11 Derry School Board meeting one of the main agenda items during the meeting was in regards to the lawsuit and whether or not the school district would join it.

It was explained by Derry School Board Chair Erika Cohen that at the time of the meeting there were 13 school districts that had joined the lawsuit and that ConVal was seeking more school districts to join the suit.

At the last court hearing Cohen said that the judge told the district that they had 30 days to add more districts to the suit.

Cohen explained that ConVal would be responsible for 50 percent of the cost for attorney fees but was asking for the other districts that wanted to join the suit to commit money towards the fees.

She said that they could either commit a certain percentage of the fees, commit a certain amount of money, or commit a percentage and set a limit of how much they’d be able to put towards the legal fees.

So far the lowest percentage committed is six percent of the 50 percent the additional schools need to pay for and the highest percentage was 22 percent.

Before deciding how much money they would commit towards the lawsuit they had to decide if they would support the lawsuit or not.

Derry School Board Vice Chairperson Derick Anderson said that there was a senate committee tasked with looking at the funding formula and came up with what he said were good recommendations. With that said he said that the other legislators ignored them.

“I would support being in the lawsuit,” he said.

School Board member Brenda Willis said that she thinks they need to join the lawsuit in order to have their voices heard at the state level.

“We need to do something to make sure our voices are being heard,” she said.

School Board member Jessica Ring said that she is also in support of the lawsuit.

“They are not giving us adequate funds,” she said about the state funding.

The board ultimately agreed to support the lawsuit and that they would commit up to $30,000 for legal fees.

Cohen said that she is happy they are supporting the lawsuit pointing out that they spend far more per student in the district than they receive from state aid.

She said that currently they spend about $15,000 per student and receive about $4,400 in state aid per student.

“I think this is an important thing to do as a school district,” she said. “This is putting our foot down that we really want more for our students.”

In personnel news, the School Board accepted the resignations of District Chief Psychologist Kristen Thibodeau and Fran Leach a science teacher at  Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.

The next Derry School Board meeting is slated for May 25, at 6:30 p.m.

Leave a Reply