1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH, 03801, Tel: (603) 610-7281Fax: (603) 427-1575 Email: Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com

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Ed Funding Grant Changes Show Need for Long-Term Plan

PORTSMOUTH, NH - Last-minute adjustments to the State education grants underscore the critical need for a long-term, fair and financially sustainable funding formula, the Coalition Communities said in announcing seating is still available for Tuesday's Education Funding Forum featuring the four candidates for governor. Incumbent Gov. Craig Benson and his Republican challenger, Charles Tarbell of New Castle, and Democrats John Lynch of Hopkinton and Paul McEachern of Portsmouth will make brief presentations at the start of the Forum that begins at 7 p.m. at Portsmouth City Hall, to be followed by questions presented by moderator Roger Wood of Clear Channel Radio.

Mayor Evelyn Sirrell, leader of the 34-town Coalition, said seating is still available for the public to attend the 1 -hour Forum and she urged voters to carefully examine the education funding plans and promises of each candidate.

"I hope all of the candidates for governor realize how desperately we need a long-term plan that gets education funding where it's truly needed," said Mayor Sirrell "How can any community responsibly plan when they have to wait until the last minute to be sure how much education grant money they will receive from the State?

"People should be outraged that some of the grants announced less than a week before distribution were different from the spreadsheets the Legislature voted on -- even though the legislative leadership and the Attorney General's office have been saying those totals are the law," she said.

"Towns shouldn't have to scramble at the last minute to adjust to new grant totals," she said. "I hope the candidates for governor can promise us this won't happen again. We should all listen carefully to what they say at the Forum."

The Mayor said the Coalition is working to fine-tune its targeted-aid proposal, which is modeled on successful programs in other states. New Hampshire's current plan, she noted, gives millions more to rich communities and less to the poorest, as well as eliminates extra funding for children who cost more to educate -- such as those receiving special education, those who don't speak English as a first language, or who attend high school.

She noted that a recent Becker Institute survey shows most NH voters prefer the concept of targeting aid to needy communities, rather than sending equal payments to every town. In addition, more than 60% of voters prefer an increase in the cigarette tax, rather than a hike in the statewide property tax, to provide necessary state aid to public schools.

Those attending the Forum are asked to be seated no later than 6:45 p.m. as the event will begin promptly at 7 p.m. It also will be broadcast live over the N.H. Public Radio network and the local Cable Channel 22, and be available as a "webcast" for anyone with access to the Internet.

Even though numerous seats have been reserved in advance for the Forum, the Coalition said the City Council Chamber will accommodate several hundred people and an overflow area is being set up in order that as many members of the public who wish to attend in person, may do so.

"We have tried to do everything possible to make sure the voters of New Hampshire have an opportunity to know where these candidates stand on education funding. This subject impacts every one of us as taxpayers and as citizens who believe every schoolchild deserves a quality education," the Mayor said.

Contact: Pat Remick, Coordinator, 610-7281 Or Mayor Sirrell, 610-7200

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 1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH, 03801, Tel: (603) 610-7281Fax: (603) 427-1575 Email: Coalition@ch.cityofportsmouth.com