Mayor Joyce Craig’s SB 193 Math Problem Suggests She Could Benefit from More Education Choices

Joyce CraigLike many Democrats, Mayor Joyce Craig appears to have an issue with regard to exaggeration. She’s made some remarkable declarations to the NH House Finance Committee about the financial cost to Manchester Schools if SB 193 becomes law. I’m guessing she’s either got bad information or she’s just so keen on protecting the Unions that back her campaigns that she’s forgotten basic multiplication. I have to wonder if she suffered from poor education choices as a child.

She wouldn’t stoop to lying, right? 

A rebuttal to Mayor Craig’s “testimony” has come to my attention in the form of a letter to the Chair of the House Finance Committee, care of someone inside the NH State House. It provides a bit of contrast to the reported testimony of math-challenged Mayor Craig.

Chairman Kurk and members of the honorable committee:

In a local news report, Mayor Craig was quoted as making the following comment in testimony during the committee’s hearing on SB 193:

“If just one-quarter of one percent of our students leave, or 35 students, the Manchester School district will lose over $400,000. That’s a big deal.”

While it is true that 35 is one-quarter of one percent of our 14,000 student body, it is also true Mayor Craig’s math infers that the state is paying the total per-pupil cost of an education in Manchester. At the current per-pupil adequacy rate of $3,636.06 per pupil, if Manchester “lost” 35 students, our revenues would be reduced by $127,262.10.

The Manchester School District’s general fund appropriation for the current fiscal year is approximately $167,000,000. For us to lose one-quarter of one percent of our state aid due to SB 193, 115 students would have to leave our district’s schools using the current adequacy aid rate. Were that to happen, Manchester would lose $417,500 in state aid.

As I understand the bill, were enough students to leave our district schools to reduce our state adequacy aid by one-quarter of one percent of our appropriated general fund operating budget, then the state would reimburse that loss, but short of that threshold, Manchester would have to offset the lost revenue.  If this is not correct, I’d appreciate being corrected.

Manchester does face many challenges and has suffered financially as it has lost state stabilization and other aid and been forced to absorb down-shifted costs, such as pension system payments. Were the state still paying its 35% of the district’s NHRS obligation, that would save us about $5 million! As a result, there is concern over the potential loss of any more revenue. That said, Mayor Craig’s math is incorrect and the conclusions drawn from it unsubstantiated by the facts.

For the record, I do support SB 193. I believe it provides children with opportunities they would otherwise not have. As a parent and taxpayer, my desire is that every child be able to be part of the educational environment that will best allow them to thrive. As a school board member, I share that desire and hold the belief that if Manchester spent its time responding to the inevitable changes in education that will provide parents and students with more and better choices then attempt to block the tide of change as it comes in, I am confident we would compete well in the educational marketplace SB 193 will create and attract more students to the many fine and unique magnet programs in our schools.

We cannot let the failures of bureaucracies and unions to meet the educational needs of children deprive them of the options they need and deserve.

The letter as received was signed by Manchester School Board member (and long-time humble host) Rich Girard, whom I have reached out to for confirmation.

Your thoughts on the math, Education Savings Accounts or anything else are, as always, welcome.