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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In my opinion, more money should be given to the school department. What are your thoughts on education in the city budget?


  1. The Master Plan for 2014, States that Portsmouth Public Schools have 54% of the share, between Local Govt, Fire, and Police. I think that's fair, we have made a lots of upgrades over the past few years in the schools and more to come.

  2. I think we are at a good place with education within the City's operating budget in which the City Council has approved the requests that have been made by the School Department over the past few years and the School Department has very seriously weighed what resources they need to operate. In addition, the City has put considerable resources into upgrading the high school and middle school buildings. In the near future we will need to do the same to make much needed upgrades to the elementary schools.

  3. I feel you cannot give enough money in support of education. Our youth deserve every opportunity, facility, and skilled professionals we can afford. But what we can afford is the issue. Obviously money is always in short supply and must be spent in a myriad of ways to support a host of City services. As long as our education system is as good as we can make it within our means I am for funding the school budget with as much money as is appropriate

  4. Again, I omitted my last name in the above comment, my apologies

  5. The School Board is responsible for setting the school budget and priorities. I have two children at the high school and one who has graduated. I'm for strong schools, but the question isn't only about money. We also need to set high standards for our teachers and students. Parents need to be involved in their sons and daughters' education. Money spent per student is not the real measuring stick of a school. I went to school at a public technical high school in Mexico. They had a small budget but it was an excellent school.

  6. I was responsible for the school budget for 5 years which was approximately 36 million dollars for all the schools. I believe that the city budget is an investment and should include quality education. It is important to remember however that the taxpayers are always asking the question. "What am I getting for my tax money"? So, it is not just about continually infusing more money into the budget but making sure resources are used wisely,

  7. Jim Splaine

    I think money spent on education is our best investment that we can make. I've often said that most of us voting this November won't touch the 22nd Century -- that's 87 years from now. But many of the children in our elementary schools right now have a chance to do so.

    They will be facing unknown challenges which we only visit in our nightmares: new forms of terrorism, different kinds of viruses and medical problems, rising seas, climate change, worldwide food and water shortages.

    But they will also have opportunities of which we can only dream: space exploration, new technologies, exciting new modes of transportation and energy production, the potential of greater international economic prosperity, and chances for peace on Earth.

    So, they need to be prepared. They need to be smarter than us. A lot smarter than us. And the best gift that we can give to them while we are here is to invest in the best education we can provide. Not just adequate education, but excellent education.

  8. I believe we must support quality education for all of our children.

  9. The citizens of Portsmouth are clearly willing to support strong schools and continue to demonstrate support with budgets that provide for first class teachers and investments in facilities. To this end, we will be making some big decisions related to upgrading our elementary schools and prioritizing this work will require leadership and continued commitment from the community.

    I have four children who are currently in elementary, middle and high school in the Portsmouth School System. I'm grateful to have an excellent education being offered to all of them and all of the young people who have the privilege of calling Portsmouth their school. My oldest daughter is currently pursuing a compentency-based approach to her studies at Portsmouth High School. This experience reinforced that given Portsmouth's commitment to excellence and innovation, we can do more to lead in this area.

  10. Sorry, but if you are of the opinion that more money should be given to the school department, you’re going to have to do better than that with me, and you’re going to have to persuade me with specifics. I am not one of those who are of the mindset that you can produce better-educated students and better citizens simply by throwing money at the schools.

    Whenever I am confronted with the issue of school spending in Portsmouth, my usual response goes something like this:

    Scholastic excellence is a function of excellence in teaching. If you had come to me with the roughly $40 million that we spent on the so-called middle school renovation and the additional $40 million that we spent on the Portsmouth High School extension, and if you had said to me, “Mr. MacCallum, we have $80 million set aside and earmarked for education. I think that we should spend that money to raise incoming teachers’ salaries so that we can attract the best and brightest talent from the newly-minted teachers who are graduating from our colleges,” I probably would have said, “Well, at $80 million, I still think that that’s way too much,” but at least I would have taken that proposal seriously. For it is teachers--not lavish new physical facilities--that drive student achievement. Instead of investing in our teachers, we have been spending $80 million to erect these mini-Taj Mahals, which serve little purpose other than as the architects’ monuments to themselves.

    The problem is that at this point, that money has already been spent and we are now paying it back, and the taxpayers of Portsmouth are already being crushed by crippling taxes. With conditions such as these, it is difficult to ask the taxpayers to spend additional money on teachers’ salaries or on the school budget generally.

    At some point we have to live within our means and to hold the line against runaway spending, and the current School Board and its predecessors have shown no particular talent for that. The massive Portsmouth High School extension has now been in existence a sufficient number of years that it is possible to take a measure of its success in yielding academic proficiency. Are our high school students today achieving appreciably higher test scores on regional and national standardized tests (such as the SATs) than they were at the time that the high school extension was completed and opened for use? Are greater numbers of our graduating high school seniors being accepted into the nation’s finest colleges and universities than they were back then? Not insofar as I am aware.

    The challenge today is to both cultivate and reward teaching excellence without expanding the school budget at a rate greater than that of inflation. This should not be as difficult as it sounds, for our current School Board and its predecessors, with the concurrence of the City Council, have had their priorities turned upside down and have been guilty of foolish and irresponsible spending decisions. There is no reason why the strings program should be in danger of being cut from the music department’s budget, nor why our varsity athletes should be standing on our downtown street corners with tin cans, soliciting donations so that they can participate in their high school athletic programs. Perhaps if we hadn’t spent $3 million installing Astroturf in the high school football field, we would have enough money to fully fund all of those programs. That expenditure reflected an extraordinarily poor exercise in judgment by those who were in charge of the school budget.

    There needs to be a serious reordering of priorities by the people who are in charge of the school budget--which means, ultimately, the members of the City Council itself. I am not afraid to spend whatever money is needed to produce a quality education, but I insist on getting good value for my dollar, and now is not the time for frills and luxuries.