School districts across New Hampshire are losing money because the state’s funding formula is based on metrics heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sixteen mayors and school board leaders wrote to Gov. Chris Sununu and legislative leaders this week expressing their concerns.

They explained that while districts have been providing more free meals than ever to students, fewer families have filled out the paperwork to document participation in the free and reduced price meal program. Because the funding formula is based in part on enrollment in the program, Manchester, for example, faces a $3.6 million decrease in funding.

Similarly, enrollment overall has decreased as more parents sent children to private school or homeschool during the pandemic, the group wrote.

“Districts across the state are concerned that since adequacy aid is based on the enrollment of the previous year, if enrollment numbers increase to a pre-pandemic level, that they will be left educating a significant number of students for which they did not receive adequacy aid,” they wrote.

The Republican governor said the two federal virus relief packages passed by Congress include about $220 million for education-related expenses in New Hampshire, and the state will work with communities to help families sign up for the meal program.

“It’s very legitimate concerns on their part. And between the funding and the state support, I think we can close the gap,” he said.

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