PORTSMOUTH -- Check out facebook and you’ll see a number of school districts who gave a shout-out to their 2013 grads.
The districts posted congratulatory messages and pictures, hoping to make a big impact when students see their friends' achievements.
“For students to be graduating from high school in the city of Portsmouth, it is really a big deal,” one Portsmouth taxpayer said.
But several people told 13News Now they had a problem with the way Portsmouth Public Schools honored its top graduates.
The cash-strapped school district that was forced to cut its budget by $6 million this year took out a full-page ad in the Virginian Pilot costing $3,000- and You Paid For It.
"Okay, I do not agree with that,” another taxpayer said. Why? "Cause it’s taxpayer money,” the man added.
Superintendent David Stuckwisch repeatedly turned down a request for an on-camera interview.
In an email, Stuckwisch said the purpose of the advertisement was to point to the success that occurs in their schools. "These advertisements are not dissimilar to other graduation-type ads that run in the Pilot each spring,” Stuckwisch wrote.
In our investigation we found that Newport News Schools spent more than $1,200 to tout their students’ successes and Hampton schools spent $1,300.
But Portsmouth was the only public school district in Hampton Roads that spent $3,000 to honor a handful of students.
“They should find a way to honor the students where it does not cost the school system so much money,” was the view of another taxpayer. Some taxpayers suggested using social media, which is free and arguably where young people are more likely to see it.
“Kids always talk about graduating on social media,” said a Portsmouth taxpayer.
When asked why Portsmouth schools didn’t use social media to honor its grads, school officials didn’t have an answer.
Of the more than 1.1 billion people connecting on facebook today, Portsmouth Public Schools does not have a facebook page.