Educational options are under attack on multiple fronts. Not only are some legislators seeking to completely repeal the Education Tax Credit Scholarship program that supports low-income students, they are trying to make it nearly impossible for chartered public schools to operate.
One of these attacks is HB 711, a bill that would gut funding for chartered public schools. Charter schools operate on state funding – the base state adequacy of $3,636 plus an additional $3,286 per pupil (total $6,922), plus any federal grants they can obtain. Local property tax money does not support charter schools; local dollars stay with district schools. Eliminating all except the base adequacy support would almost certainly force all charter schools in the state to close their doors.
By comparison, per the NH Department of Education, the average cost per pupil is $15,865.26; the cost per pupil with all expenditures is $18,991.10.
Most people do not realize that all of New Hampshire’s charter schools are part of our public-school system and are not private institutions. They are also operated by non-profit organizations and are secular, per state statute. Like other public schools, they do not charge tuition and must follow nondiscrimination enrollment and hiring. Any NH child may apply to a chartered public school and students can continue to receive services for their IEP or 504, if applicable. The difference is that charters may have enrollment caps; if applications exceed available seats, they hold lotteries to determine enrollment. Families are also not assigned to charter schools; they do not have to reside in the town or city in which the charter school is located.
New Hampshire has over two dozen charter schools across the state and are a valued educational opportunity within NH’s public-school system. They provide an alternative for families who want something else for their children, but wish to stay in public schools. Charters must follow nearly all of the same laws as district public schools, but may operate with different philosophies and pedagogies to learning. As an example, NH is home to three charter schools that focus on the fine arts – Granite State Arts Academy, Cocheco Academy of The Arts Charter School, and Gate City Charter School for the Arts. NH also has a national blue-ribbon school, The Academy for Science and Design, a STEM-focused school. There are charters that focus on at-risk students, such as North Country Charter Academy and CSI Charter School.
There is a public hearing for HB 711 in the House Education Committee on Tuesday, January 29th at 2:15pm.
The bill would cut the state’s funding for charters nearly in half. Charter schools already operate on one-third the total funding that other public schools receive. This bill, if enacted, would likely close our charter schools, forcing hundreds of these students back into their local public schools, environments that are not the best fit for them, and at a higher cost to taxpayers.
Contact the House Education Committee as soon as possible. They likely will vote on the bill either next week or the following. Brief phone calls are most effective; personal stories can be particularly compelling. Mention if you are a constituent. A list of the committee members’ emails is below the table for an easy copy/paste.
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