PORTSMOUTH, NH – Superintendent Stephen Zadravec is pleased to announce that the Portsmouth School Department launched the Educational Opportunity Fund this year in an effort to close opportunity and achievement gaps for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Over the summer, the School Board and administration met to discuss goal areas, including the performance and participation of students along socioeconomic lines. The Board compared data on students who do and do not participate in the district’s free or reduced lunch program.
The review concluded that students on the free and reduced lunch program were half as likely as students not on the free and reduced lunch program to be enrolled in advanced coursework. The analysis also indicated that students on free and reduced lunch are three times more likely to get failing grades.
Following the results of the analysis, the School Board put developing strategies to close any opportunity and achievement gaps at the forefront of its goals for the 2017-18 school year. Members worked with the administration to brainstorm a system to assure any student on free or reduced lunch would have the same opportunities as students who are not.
To accomplish this, the Portsmouth School Department created the Educational Opportunity Fund, which will provide access to various educational opportunities for students in need. This includes participation in the Running Start Program — a partnership between New Hampshire’s community colleges and high schools that gives students the opportunity to take college courses for credit. Students in all grades will also have access to educational field trips and other school-sponsored enrichment opportunities.
The fund is similar in its intent to the Portsmouth’s Futures Program, which was created by the late Joe Sawtelle to help students prepare for college, often providing financial assistance to those who are in need. The Educational Opportunity Fund is intended to support access to cost-bearing opportunities in elementary, middle and high school.
“All students, regardless of their socioeconomic situation, deserve to have the same educational opportunities and experiences,” Superintendent Zadravec said. “Portsmouth is such a supportive community, and I know our new Educational Opportunity Fund will help a lot of our students overcome challenges and achieve the success they deserve.”
Members of the community who wish to support the Educational Opportunity Fund can make checks payable to the Portsmouth School Department with a note specifying their donation to the Educational Opportunity Fund.
Donations can be sent to: Steve Bartlett, Business Administrator Portsmouth School Department 1 Junkins Ave, Suite 402 Portsmouth, NH 03801.