CONCORD, NH – A letter sent to New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu earlier this month from the Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) has gotten a response. It just isn’t the response the BOSC might have hoped for.
The BOSC’s letter, sent on Sept. 1, asked Sununu for increased funding support in light of deficiencies in the district’s school budget that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The response detailed Sununu’s attempts to help the Manchester School District with $39,806,080 in new education funding over the last four years, highlighted by $6.6 million in Educational CARES Grant funding, approximately 20 percent of the state total.
Sununu’s letter also outlined $32,070,060 in general municipal aid for the city at large, alongside $9,516,871 in housing support, a total of $17,136,932 for substance and mental health support programs including nearly $2 million to be used toward a new vendor to operate the Manchester Doorway and $648,868 for first responders through the CARES Act.
Sununu added his frustration at the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s recent decision to use $3.5 million in state funding meant to reimburse the district for academic purposes that was ultimately put toward tax relief instead.
“There are more state and federal resources going into Manchester than at any other time in history,” said Sununu.
Despite the figures mentioned by Sununu, as of the most recent data Manchester ranked 162nd in per-pupil spending amongst the 164 New Hampshire municipalities tracked by the New Hampshire Department of Education. and the decision on the $3.5 million, the letter on Thursday from Sununu was a frustrating one for BOSC Vice-Chair Leslie Want.
“Our shortfall this year is going to cause us some issues this budget season. We can’t quite predict that yet, but we’re looking at an estimated $11.3 million in mitigation needs due to the coronavirus,” said Want. “The $6.6 million from the state just won’t cover it.”