Reaching Higher NH School Funding Survey Analysis

In the winter of 2020, Reaching Higher New Hampshire released a survey which sought to gather data on the public’s perception of how public schools across New Hampshire are funded, as well as how residents feel the schools in their districts are performing. 

We received 744 responses from New Hampshire residents for our online survey. Outreach was conducted through social media, targeted communications, and email. Our survey sample was not random, and results should not be interpreted as reflecting the broader New Hampshire public (see the Overall Demographics section for more information). However, the data serve as a starting point for discussion and further research.

Key findings include:

  • The majority of respondents agreed that their schools are doing a good job overall.
  • Most respondents disagreed with the sentiment that their schools receive the right amount of funding. Of the 744 respondents, 418 indicated that they thought that per-student school funding should increase, compared to about 98 who believed that per-student school funding should decrease and 199 who believed that it should say the same. 
  • Of those who responded to all three questions, 44% indicated that they believe that state and federal funding for public schools should increase, and local funding for public schools should decrease. 
  • Respondents typically underestimated the amount spent per-student in their district by $2,571, or 14%.
  • Overall, respondents typically underestimated the amount of funding that comes from local sources, while overestimating the amount of funding from federal and state sources. Particularly, respondents thought that 15% of funding came from federal sources, when districts receive an average of 5.1% of their funds from the federal government.
  • Respondents who felt as though their tax dollars were not being used appropriately, tended to overestimate the share from federal (and, in some cases, state) sources, and underestimate the share from local sources.  
  • A little more than half (53%) of respondents agreed that public schools prepare students for higher education, 46% agreed that public schools prepare students for the workforce, and 36% of respondents agreed that public schools prepare students as informed citizens. 

To download the full report, click the image below:

Questions or comments about these analyses can be sent to

Our Involvement

In late 2018, the board and staff of Reaching Higher NH determined that our leading organizational policy priority will be to inform and support public engagement on the issue of school funding. We believe that re-exploring how NH funds its public schools is among the most important public policy opportunities of our time. To that end and for the foreseeable future, a lot of our policy work will be focused on providing the NH public with the timely research and resources you need to understand and make informed decisions about school funding policies in NH. This work will include in-depth original research, like our Whole Picture of Public Education project, as well community engagement initiatives, and public awareness and information efforts. 

Join our network of New Hampshire parents, educators, business leaders, and community members who are interested in school funding.

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