Fewer than one out of five Portsmouth households has a school-aged child, yet we spend more of our property tax dollars on K-12 education than we do on the rest of operating budget combined.
While this may seem like a lopsided allocation of dollars, this is actually very good news – we are matching our words with our actions as a community. Most people would say that K-12 education is the best investment we can make in our community’s future…and we are backing that belief up with our budget priorities, and with strong leadership.
The results are strong, and getting stronger:
- Recently, a report ranked all three of our elementary schools among the top ten overall in New Hampshire.
- Earlier in 2015, one of our elementary schools was ranked third in the country by a national online publication.
- Our high school was recently ranked 9th in the entire state.
- Our middle school was ranked 12th overall in the state, and #1 among New Hampshire’s cities.
In all cases, the trajectory continues to move upward.
The benefits to the community – whether or not you currently have school-aged children – are numerous:
- Increased value of an important asset – your home: Residential property values are significantly impacted by the perceived quality of the school district in which it is located.
- Availability of jobs: One of the primary factors in an established company’s decision of where to locate is the quality of the K-12 system in the area, because of its importance to the workforce the company needs to succeed.
- Access to higher education: As higher ed continues to move towards advancement based on competency, high-performing K-12 districts like Portsmouth will better be able to take advantage of virtual learning, advanced placement, and programs like Project Running Start. Running Start allows students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously, lowering the cost of higher education for families, and making those students more competitive college applicants.
- Equality of opportunity: Perhaps most importantly, delivering high-quality K-12 education at all of our schools is providing quality access to every neighborhood of our community, regardless of socioeconomic status. This is simply not the case in most cities.
The quality of our education system is at the core of our high quality of life, but it does not happen in a vacuum. A strong and expanding economy, including in our downtown, allows Portsmouth to simultaneously restrain tax increases while delivering quality education. These factors are deeply interwoven, and the benefits to all members of our community are invaluable.