The Grantham School Board recently joined 19 other school districts in a lawsuit against the state of New Hampshire, seeking to compel the state to provide equitable funding for all districts.
New Hampshire relies more on property taxes to fund pre-K-12 education than any other state — and routinely ranks last in the nation for state support. Since the original Claremont court decision nearly 30 years ago, the state has interpreted its obligation as providing a basic level of support.
In 2019, the state determined that amount was about $3,636 per student. That formula does not consider costs such as transportation, school nurses or food services, and only a small percentage of maintenance and facilities costs.
The true cost of educating one student is about $18,000. No school district could provide even a minimal education with the state’s contribution.
Inequitable funding creates a system of separate, unequal school districts, based on the ability of a community to increase its taxes and self-fund its students’ needs, even though students’ needs are the same statewide.
Grantham’s school budget is approximately $10 million annually. The community has consistently supported this funding for its children, and the district carefully watches and spends these taxpayer dollars wisely, acutely aware that the majority of it comes from our local constituents. Lack of state support means that additional costs — anything from construction to instructional — will continue to fall on local taxpayers.
Funding is not singularly a Grantham issue. It’s a statewide issue of equity, and of building a bright future for every child regardless of ZIP code. Grantham is one of the smallest districts in the state; the two largest, Manchester and Nashua, also recognize the importance of fair funding and have joined this fight. This issue is one that affects us all.
Joining the lawsuit is the right thing for our children, our community and our state. We are proud to join this effort and are committed to guaranteeing an equitable education for all New Hampshire students.
BRITTANY PYE, LESLEY NESBITT, CHRISTINE CONROY,
EDWARD UPSON and DENISE SULLIVAN
The writers are the members of the Grantham School Board.
Last year, FitKids Childcare offered a challenge to child care centers everywhere. Recognizing that the good people who work in early childhood education have been undervalued for too long, we gave significant, across-the-board pay raises to our employees. The Valley News published a letter on January 2020 in which we challenged our colleagues to do the same.
Immediately, an influx of very talented people applied for jobs with us. Several of them received offers, at the new rates, published in our handbook so that all employees could see not only where they stood on our career path, but where they could go while working together with us. These excellent applicants went back to their employers, and every single one of them was offered a raise; FitKids did not gain a single employee. Instead, the standard of pay in our industry, at least locally, improved. We were happy.
The time has come to raise the bar once again. The pandemic year has reminded us, if we undervalue our child care workers, the whole community suffers. It’s time to get parents back to work.
They need to leave their infants, toddlers and preschoolers in the hands of valued professionals who apply considerable skill, in a safe, healthy environment where the children will flourish.
Effective immediately, FitKids has once again given significant pay raises to our entire teaching staff, many of whom worked long and tirelessly throughout the difficult year. We are collaborating with community partners to empower employees and advance their career opportunities.
Let’s make child care, and our communities, healthier and stronger than ever before.
The writer is the owner of FitKids Childcare at the River Valley Club.
It was good to read the name of former Ray Elementary School teacher Marilyn “Willy” Black, in Dave Cioffi’s Forum letter (“No transparency by Ray School leadership,” June 1) , and be reminded of her skills as, first, a kindergarten teacher and, later, an art teacher, who affected the lives of so many families in Hanover, mine among them.
When she helped to showcase America’s Colonial history in the 1970s, her “Colonial Days” activities were considered state-of-the-art. They were “hands on” and so much fun!
Recent Ray School teachers’ work to make curriculum changes in this unit of study, in order to broaden its perspective, is a tribute to Black, who was honored to have been chosen the National Teacher of the Year because of her willingness to adapt, to expand, to challenge and to enrich her own teaching practice. If Black were with us today, she would have been leading the charge to make the Colonial history unit more inclusive and more honest in its reflection of the historical times it represents.
Most of the teachers who worked on these changes probably did not know Willy Black. As someone who did, I thank them.