Letter to Sununu: Use remaining CARES Act funds to help schools

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O P I N I O N

THE SOAPBOX

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The following is a letter to New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, re-published with permission.


Dear Governor Sununu,

We are writing to you because we are disappointed that while you wait to announce how you will spend the remaining CARES Act funds, schools across New Hampshire are struggling because of a lack of resources needed to test adequately and create safe environments for teachers and students. With barely more than a month left until the state runs out of time to spend the remainder of the CARES Act funds, we ask that you act quickly to spend the money where it’s most needed – our public schools.

At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the Department of Education allotted $33.9 million to New Hampshire school districts, which was spent quickly after CDC guidance recommended that our schools have air purifiers, PPE, technology for remote learning, and other necessary equipment to keep our students, as well as janitors, paraprofessionals, librarians, nurses, and staff in the buildings safe. And yet, many of our schools across the state are still struggling. First, with the costs of opening, and now with continuing to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic because the initial amount was simply inadequate to keep teachers and students safe.

Since then, the State has designated additional money to schools to help with coronavirus-related expenses, but it is still not enough. And without these funds, schools cannot afford to cover the costs of technology purchases, safe water stations, plastic dividers, and heating and ventilation systems that are necessary to remain open, and keep teachers, students, custodians, and all adults in the buildings safe as we approach winter.

We are seeing schools closing across New Hampshire because they do not have the funds to safely stay open. This is why we ask that you utilize the remaining CARES Acts funds to adequately support our schools before the end of the year. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an incredible burden on teachers and staff who go into work every day to do their best to provide an education to New Hampshire students during this very difficult time – but the reality is that we are still living in the middle of a global pandemic that is resurging with a vengeance, and we need these funds to help us prioritize our safety and the safety of our students.

Signed,

Mary Lou Brindisi of Bedford, Retired Educator

Pamela Cohen of Bedford, Retired Educator

Susan Dell of Bedford, Retired Administrator

Sue Mullen of Bedford, State Representative  and Retired Educator

Patricia Nealon of Bedford, Retired Educator

Nannette Raclin of Bedford, Retired Educator

Jan Raudonis of Bedford, Retired Administrator

James Contois of Claremont, City Councilor

Rebecca B. MacKenzie of Claremont, Psychotherapist

Cheryl Bourassa of Concord, English Language Learner Tutor

Laurie Koch of Concord, Retired Paraeducator

Mel Myler of Contoocook, State Representative  and former Executive Director of the NEA New Hampshire

Janet Wetherbee of Derry, Retired School Occupational Therapist

Martha Jane Rich of Enfield, Retired Administrator

Linda Tanner of Georges Mills, State Representative  and Retired Educator

Eric Schildge of Hampton, Teacher

Deb Bacon Nelson of Hanover, Retired Educator

Jay Dufour of Hooksett, Retired Educator

Nancy Dufour of Hooksett, Retired Educator

Marie Christine Duggan of Keene, Economist

Andrew Gamble of Lebanon, Teacher and President of the Lebanon Education Association

Barbara Gondek of Londonderry, Retired Educator

Ronald Gondek of Londonderry, Retired Teacher

Phil Barta of Lyme, School Board Member

Jennifer Boylston of Lyme, Budget Committee Member

Donald J Bouchard of Manchester, State Representative  and Retired Teacher

Patricia Cornell of Manchester, State Representative  and Retired Guidance Counselor

Edward Doyle of Manchester, Teacher

Mary Heath of Manchester, State Representative  and Retired Educator

Gary Hoffman of Nashua, Teacher

Elizabeth Birnam of Newmarket, Teacher

Amy Gendreau of Newmarket, Teacher

Kathy Hubert of Newport, Retired Taxpayer

Virginia Irwin of Newport, Retired Administrator

Kathryn Niboli of Newport, Retired Teacher and Principal

Charen Urban of Newport, Retired Educator

Linda Wadensten of Newport, School Board Member

David Doherty of Pembrook, State Representative and Retired Guidance Counselor

Alfrieda J Englund of Stoddard, Retired Educator

Beth Talbott of Windham, Teacher

UPDATE: State Representative Mary Heath reached out to Manchester Ink Link on Tuesday to provide an additional comment to this letter.

She requested that not only Governor Sununu provide additional support to public schools, but also provide additional support to the city of Manchester given its importance to the state as a whole, asking him to cooperate with Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig to address the city’s issues, which impact the state as a whole given the city’s impact on the rest of the state.