Sununu brings big funding boost to Claremont school district

CLAREMONT, N.H. (WCAX) The Claremont, New Hampshire, school district has been entangled in school funding lawsuits. But it's getting a much-needed boost to its bottom line.

Gov. Chris Sununu has been crisscrossing the state handing out school funding checks, additional school aid which was allocated by lawmakers in the recently signed budget. Wednesday, it was Claremont's turn.

Claremont is receiving an additional $6.2 million with the majority of that going toward school aid. The governor said the money is a result of bipartisan compromise in Concord and input from individual communities, like Claremont.

The money will be used for infrastructure improvement, retention of quality teachers and expanded courses, which city officials say would not be possible without the state's help.

"Middle school students, they only have a half a year of science and a half a year of social studies, so those are some things that we addressed immediately over the summer and we hope that this money will play a role in adding those positions back," said Michael Tempesta, the Claremont superintendent.

"Places where it was most needed and that is exactly what we were able to do. And we were able to do it without a tax increase, we were able to do it while balancing the budget without the $100 million structural deficit. These folks deserve a lot of credit and that's what we are here to do, to go around the state and say thank you," said Sununu, R-New Hampshire.

The new budget came after months of negotiations. Sununu vetoed the first budget proposed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

The Democrats don't seem too pleased about Sununu's attempt to draw attention to this increased aid. They say they proposed even more funding than what districts are getting. And they say the increases are happening in spite of Sununu, not because of him.

In a statement, Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, said, "While I am glad the governor ultimately signed a budget with the Legislature's proposal to increase education funding and reinstitute municipal aid, both of which provide long-overdue support to communities like Claremont, today's ceremonial check presentation-- with Governor Sununu's signature on it-- is a disappointing, disingenuous and divisive political stunt.

It's important to note that the current budget passed overwhelmingly in both bodies. It allocates an additional $76.8 million to schools across the state over the next two years.