School Funding 101 Forum

The Rochester School Board invites you to attend a School Funding 101 Forum.

October 10, 2018 6 to 8 p.m. in the Spaulding High School Auditorium

“The current state funding system allows for children in school districts with more valuable real estate to benefit from higher per-pupil spending, while their parents pay property taxes at much lower rates.” – Attorney John Tobin

Students and taxpayers in property poor towns do not get their fair share of limited education funding in New Hampshire. The Claremont lawsuits that challenged the state’s school funding mechanism were intended to remedy that but inequities remain.  In fact, after an initial improvement, the tax burden on property poor towns has returned to about what it was before the lawsuit.

Executive Councilor Andy Volinsky and retired head of New Hampshire Legal Assistance John Tobin, two of the Claremont attorneys, are traveling the State holding forums in which they educate citizens and local leadership about how the combination of, primarily, local property taxes, with a little additional state and federal funding school funding finances our schools.  They make the funding system as it exists today understandable and show how it is not fair to New Hampshire’s property poor towns and taxpayers.

Andy and John’s “School Funding 101” forums are a great opportunity to understand New Hampshire school funding and discuss with fellow citizens and two of the most knowledgeable and clear education funding experts in the State.

Highly successful forums in Pittsfield, Derry, Newton and Berlin have been completed with hundreds in attendance and many questions answered.

Rochester: 6:00 to 8:00 PM, October 10 at Spalding High School, 130 Wakefield Street, Rochester NH.  

If you want further information you can look here:

Vision Meeting September 27th, 6 to 8 p.m.

Dear Parent, Staff and Community Members,


The Rochester School Board would like to invite you to participate in the Strategic Planning Process.   We have surveyed the community, had a retreat and now we would like to engage in visioning work. We would like your feedback on a vision for the Rochester School system.


The event is planned for September 27th from 6 to 8 p.m. in the first floor conference at the Rochester Community Center.  Please come and provide your feedback. If you are unable to make it but have suggestions about the vision, mission or other thoughts, email to:


Please let us know if you plan to attend, email at :




A mission statement is a concise explanation of the organization’s reason for existence. It describes the organization’s purpose and its overall intention. The mission statement supports the vision and serves to communicate purpose and direction to employees, customers, vendors and other stakeholders

Current:  “The Mission of the Rochester School Department is to ensure quality educational experiences


Proposed Mission

The Rochester New Hampshire School District provides a personalized education for all students Pre-school to Grade 12.  Students will be prepared as educated, responsible, and contributing citizens, who can read, write, communicate, and calculate with clarity and accuracy using current technologies and resources.

Our Vision in ten years ???  What does success look like ?  If we ignore the constraints, what would we do differently ?

A vision statement looks forward and creates a mental image of the ideal state that the organization wishes to achieve. It is inspirational and aspirational and should challenge employees. Questions to consider when drafting vision statements might include:


  • What problem are we seeking to solve?
  • Where are we headed?
  • If we achieved all strategic goals, what would we look like 10 years from now?


We will create a vision for Rochester Schools  during the meeting on September 27th.


Michael Hopkins

FY 2019 Budget Proposal

Updated City Council Schedule

The City Council announced May 8th, the following changes.

May 29th will be the public hearing on the budget, not May 22nd

June 12th is the planned vote on the budget.

May 8th and May 15th,  City Council Workshops sessions, other departments will be presenting

May 29th, City Council Meeting and Public Hearing on the budget,  Public Comment opportunities at the public hearing

June 12th is the expected vote on the budget.  If they can’t make a decision on the 12th, it could be extended until the 19th.

In most cases, Council meetings do not have public comment sections, but workshops do have comment sections.

Here is link to the video of the City Council meeting where the budget information was reviewed.  Beginning at about the nine minute mark of the video the budget information is reviewed.

FY 2019 School Department Budgetcc (2)-1ckhj47

Some Additional information sent to City Council on May 6th.


Why should the City Council support the School District Budget proposal

Below are some of my notes from the presentation to the City Council.

  1. It makes economic sense.  Supporting a strong school system in the City enhances the economic conditions in the city.  We help provide the workforce to the community. One example is 12 students entering the composite program at Great Bay Community College as Seniors at Spaulding High School.  They will complete the program and be available to work for local businesses at graduation. Home values increase when schools are supported by the community.  The opposite is true when funding is reduced.
  2. There is a fundamental problem with the tax cap.  54% of the operating budget is covered by local taxes.  The CPI increase helps for that 54%. The CPI increase cannot support the loss of revenue and the new expenditures required by the State.  46% of the budget does not go up based on the CPI, but actually goes down. The loss of revenue does not remove the requirement to provide services.
  3. The State stopped paying 35% of the NH Retirement employee rate in 2011.  That is $1,703,842 in next year’s budget.  If we still had the State paying 35%, our budget would be $1,703,842 lower.
  4. The State Adequacy is reduced by $407,384 next year.
  5. If we had building aide, it would have provided additional revenue of $820,479.
  6. Special Education costs have increased for next year by $562,649.  Special Education requirements would supposed to be funded at the 40% level from the Federal Government.  They have never come close to that amount.
  7. Medicaid, another revenue stream that supports our required services for special education students will be going down by $360,000 next year.  
  8. The tax cap places city schools at a disadvantage.  Schools with town meetings vote on a budget, if it fails they have a default budget.  The default budget takes into account reduced revenues from the State, increased expenses from the State, and bonding projects already approved..  It allows continuing services to be provided. The tax cap does not do that.
  9. Communities that do not get State adequacy funds, meaning they are property rich, are not impacted when the adequacy aide is reduced.
  10. Look at our cost per pupil.  Spaulding High’s cost per pupil is early 20% below the state average.
  11. Look at what the budget would be if we met the average cost per pupil of the State. Just the difference at the High School would be 1400 students X $3,070 = $4,298,000.
  12. Communities with a tax cap, Nashua, Manchester, Somersworth, Dover.  All have had a tax cap adjustment at some point.
  13. FY 2019 School Department Budgetcc (2)-1ckhj47

Flu and illness advice

I wanted to share some reminders to all of us about fighting colds and flu.

We are all aware that the winter months bring illness. Colds, influenza like illness, strep and stomach viruses all seem more prevalent during these months. So that we may work together to avoid the spread of illness here are some reminders:

(CDC Guidelines)

Avoid close contact with sick people

While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible

If you are sick with a fever or with flu-like illness stay home for at least 24 hours once your fever is gone without a fever reducer except to get medical care if needed.

Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (or cough into your elbow) throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands with soap and water (if not available- use hand sanitizer)

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects contaminated with germs like the flu.