Troy resident Marcia Press is taking action after attending a four-hour town meeting on the school budget, where she says that her community was angry over how much money her town spends on education. According to the Sentinel Source, she started a petition to find another way for the state and local communities to fund New Hampshire’s public schools, and has received over 500 signatures:
“I have attended enough town meetings and budget meetings where the main battle has been over the school budget. I honestly feel most people are in favor of a quality education for their children or their community, but I feel they are essentially screaming at the wrong people,” she said Saturday.
She said that whenever the conversation turned to funding education, people invariably began complaining that teachers were being paid too much, that the schools didn’t need that many computers or that staff should be cut.
She doesn’t believe people are angry about paying for public education as much as they are angry about how they have to pay for it, she said.
“I’m going to guess the majority of you want the very best education for your children, and agree that such an education comes with a price tag,” she said at the meeting. “But how we fund our education needs to change. This is an unfair system.”
The petition for which Press has been collecting signatures states that the method of funding public education in New Hampshire is broken, and that it’s time to initiate a new method of funding that won’t have property owners bearing the brunt of maintaining public schools.
“We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to guarantee adequate, equitable, and sustainable public education. We seek to restructure how education is currently funded,” the petition states.
Press, a paraprofessional in the Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District, said relying on property taxes to fund education in New Hampshire puts communities that are struggling, like Troy, in increasingly desperate situations.
“It’s not about being greedy and trying to hold on to money. It’s about people struggling to pay the money,” she said.
She hopes her efforts, and the petition, will be enough to raise awareness of the situation to people who are making the decisions, she said. Education funding isn’t a political issue, she added.
“We’re talking about people’s lives, and about how people can stay in their homes,” she said. “Meanwhile, we have to have good schools that produce children who have to be prepared for a very complicated world if this state is to continue to grow and prosper. I think New Hampshire is an appealing and wonderful place to live, until you look at the taxes within some of the towns.”
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