KEENE — Cheshire Superior Court Judge David Ruoff agreed with the state to stop the payment of the Contoocook Valley Regional School District’s lawyers.
Ruoff ordered this week that he won’t impose the payments, which total close to $130,000, until after the state has had a chance to appeal his ruling in the education funding lawsuit.
The state was ordered to pay ConVal’s attorney fees when Ruoff ruled for ConVal this summer, finding the state is in violation of the New Hampshire Constitution and the Claremont decisions when it comes to education funding.
ConVal filed the lawsuit against the New Hampshire Department of Education, Commissioner Frank Edelblut, and Gov. Chris Sununu in March It was subsequently joined in the lawsuit by the Winchester, Monadnock, and Mascenic school districts. The lawsuit argued that by using the data compiled by the New Hampshire Department of Education, and using the formula created by the New Hampshire Legislature, the annual per pupil adequacy grant from the state should be close to $10,000. Currently, the state is paying $3,636.
While Ruoff found that the state’s current funding program is inadequate and in violation of the Claremont decisions, he did not set a dollar amount to be paid out to the districts. That could have meant tens of millions of dollars paid out to the districts.
Instead, he sent the question back to the legislature to determine a new amount for the state adequacy grant. The state is planning to appeal Ruoff’s decision to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, according to court records. The deadline to file the appeal is Wednesday.
Ruoff did impose an order for the state to pay ConVal attorney Michael Tierney and his associates fees for their service on the case, and that total is close to $130,000, according to court records.
The Claremont lawsuits, which went to the New Hampshire Supreme Court in the 1980s and 1990s found that there is a Constitutional right to an adequate education in New Hampshire.