Aldermen approve $10.8 million in school state aid

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Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig on Oct. 5, 2021. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – In a 10-3 vote, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to accept and approve the transfer of $10,847,571 in state adequacy and relief aid into the Manchester School District’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

The funding came as part of a readjustment in adequate education aid from Concord following legislation temporarily recalibrating the formula for adequacy aid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opponents of the transfer, such as Alderman Sebastian Sharonov (Ward 6) noted that putting the funding toward property tax relief would provide a $1.18 less per thousand dollars of valuation for Manchester residents, something he feels is warranted given concerns from many Manchester residents following the city’s recent revaluation that saw residential property values drastically increase.

Alderman Jim Roy (Ward 4) disagreed, noting that the money is meant specifically for schools and it is a one-time transfer.

“If we put it toward taxes, one year from now that money isn’t going to be there. That $1.18 will haunt us,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense to kick the can down the road. This money is needed at the school district.”

Alderman Joseph Kelly Levasseur (At-Large) requested that discussion on the transfer be tabled until it could be determined whether part of the money could be given to taxpayers and part of the money could be given to the schools. That vote failed 9-4, with Sharonov, Ross Terrio (Ward 7) and Ed Sapienza (Ward 8) joining Levasseur in asking for the transfer discussion to be tabled.

“It’s funny how (the school district) want all the money, but they never want to share the money with the taxpayers who are going to get creamed,” he said.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Alderman Pat Long (Ward 3) said that not accepting the money would create additional hurdles under the city’s tax cap and Alderman Tony Sapienza (Ward 5) said this could sour Concord from providing any further school aid.

“If you give your child money for college and they spent the year in Europe, you wouldn’t give them anymore, right? It’s that simple. The schools need this money,” said Sapienza.

Manchester School District Chief Financial Officer Karen DeFrancis said that the funding would free up $5.5 million in ESSER funding that can be used instead for measures such as direct tutoring specifically geared toward students who did not meet proficiency levels due to remote learning during the pandemic. Other usage of the $10.8 million included $250,000 to keep wings of some schools in the city open, $1.4 million toward food services, $250,000 toward staffing needs and $2.5 million toward technology and dual immersion materials, as well as other expenditures.

The final vote was the same as the vote to table, except for Terrio’s support. Alderman Keith Hirschmann (Ward 12) was absent for both votes.

About this Author

andrewsylvia

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.