Concord Connections — ESA Update

The proposed bill that would expand educational options for NH children, Senate Bill 193, was retained by the House Education Committee. This means that the committee will continue to work on the bill this summer and fall; there will be no additional legislative action on it this session. This is quite disappointing given that 71% of NH people with school-aged children are favorable to an education savings account program per an EdChoice poll.

Education savings accounts (ESAs) are widely considered to be the next major step for expanding school choice. Five states currently offer ESA programs and Arizona recently expanded theirs to a universal program which is very similar to the one proposed in NH.

Although SB 193 is likely to change in the coming months, the original legislation calls for 90% of the state adequacy funds (currently $3600 plus any differentiated aid) to follow a child out of the public school system.  Young children including Kindergartners (at 50%) and 1st graders are also eligible as are homeschoolers. The funds could be used for a variety of educational purposes including but not limited to textbooks, educational supplies, testing materials, tuition at online or private schools, and tutoring. Enrollment is optional. Unlike ESAs in other states, NH's program would not require any academic reporting and home education statutes are unchanged. There is a collection of articles available here for more information about the proposed legislation and ESAs in general.

This could be a very important bill for empowering more families with educational options. To stay informed on the ESA progress, subscribe to School Choice for NH or follow them on Facebook. There is also a group established just for this issue called ESAs for NH.