Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Portsmouth Budget Letter

To Members of the Portsmouth City Council,

I grew up and went to school in Lebanon, New Hampshire in the 1980s. Lebanon was not a wealthy town and did not have many of the advantages Portsmouth enjoys today. We had our schools and our classes. We had the basics. We had sports. We had music, art, and computer classes.

When my wife and I moved to Portsmouth we moved here to stay and to have and raise our family. We chose Portsmouth because of its rich history, because those who came before us built such a wonderful civic foundation, and because Portsmouth is a city with an eye on its own future.

As you navigate the budget process this year, in these uncertain times, I ask you to consider that future. We know that times are tough, that state support has fallen, and that some belt-tightening is required. In the proposed budgets each of the departments has made tough choices. The school budget eliminates many teaching positions, cuts the crossing guards, and the computer program. These are smart sacrifices. We can accept them, but only with great regret.

It is inconceivable that these cuts would not be sufficient.

Cutbacks beyond what has been proposed will endanger athletics, art, and music. They will require unacceptable cuts into the core functions of our schools and would not leave us with a system we can be proud of. The schools are already making do after years of tight funding. The fat has been cut. Once these vital programs are gone they will not easily return. Cutting this budget even further would not provide a level of support for our schools that this community can accept.

Thank you for your consideration. Thank for for looking to our future and insuring Portsmouth remains a great city to live and raise children. Thank you for your service.


  1. I don't know anything about Portsmouth's curriculum, but in this technology age, how is cutting the (entire?) computer program "the fat"? I presume Portsmouth pays into the state coffers to help fund poorer districts -- is that a factor here?

  2. The school board budget calls for the elimination of the elementary-level computer teachers. If the plan is accepted, computer education would still take place in the classrooms and there would be classes for the higher grades.

    I'm somewhat ambivalent about computer classes. No doubt computers will be central to the lives of my boys. But they already are, with or without the classes at school.

    I don't think the budget woes are particular to Portsmouth. City and state revenue are down for recession-related reasons. And health care costs for city employees (including teachers) keep going up.