I am State Representative Erica Layon and I ask for your vote March 9th for a 3-year term on the School Board.

 

Beware politicians offering money. The School Funding Commission Report seems enticing, and it seems like Derry taxpayers can transfer school costs from local taxpayers to the state. This sounds great! One little problem – we ARE the state.

 

Education funding is a challenging subject! Today 75% of school funding is paid by property tax – both local and state education taxes – with 5% from the federal government and 20% from other state funds. We spend $3 billion a year on education in New Hampshire, and that is with local battles to keep spending low. How much will we spend when everything gets sent to “the State”?

 

I have talked one-on-one with the members of the School Funding Commission about the process, and about where the money will come from. A recent presentation praised the “progressive approach to school funding” and there was talk about how it will raise taxes, but no one can agree on which taxes to increase.

 

Right now we are facing New Hampshire legislators trying to put into place Massachusetts school funding mechanisms. They are also discussing shifting the full cost of education to middle class families with higher property tax bills. This is not a fair solution!

 

I promise to dig deep into the finances and performance of our schools. I want to be able to tell you that they are doing a wonderful job managing your money. I would bet that there are plenty of areas where we could spend our money better, and I promise to ferret those out and make a plan to cut waste. With good management, we can push back on expanding state control.

 

The other side of the issue is just as important – performance. About half of Derry students are proficient in English and Math and a third meet this goal in science. I don’t find this acceptable, do you?

 

As a member of the House Education Committee, I see education from the state level. Because New Hampshire values local control, we in the legislature draw general outlines but all the details come at the local level. We are talking about state funding, but Derry spends less and isn’t particularly needy compared to the state as a whole. We talk about content of an adequate education, but not curriculum.

 

As a homeschooling mom, I have taken the giant leap to take charge of my childrens’ education. This isn’t an easy decision, and it isn’t an easy task. I want our public schools to be as strong as possible both to provide opportunities should my kids take that path and for all of our neighbors who do attend local schools. More importantly, I know how important public education is to a community and I know that great schools make great communities.

 

Curriculum decisions and spending are local. We, the people of Derry, decide how our children are educated. We are doing a pretty good job in Derry, but I believe that we can do better.