Education Bills Scheduled for Week of February 6, 2017

This is week five of the legislative session with numerous important bills scheduled for public hearings, executive sessions, and full House votes. We encourage parents and caring citizens to be involved in the legislative process.

Public hearings are the best chance to communicate with committee members and share your opinion. The Legislative Office Building (LOB) is located immediately behind the State House at 33 N. State Street in Concord. For the senate bills, sign the white sheet on a side table just inside the door to indicate your support or opposition for a bill, and if you intend to speak. The protocol is a little different in the House. The public may sign the blue sheet near the room entrance to indicate support or opposition to any bill; fill out a pink card if you intend to speak. If possible, provide written copies for each member plus the committee secretary. If you are unable to attend hearings email the committee, or better yet, call them individually and indicate if you are a constituent. Exec sessions on pending legislation may happen anytime after the public hearing closes so prompt action is encouraged. Contact information for committees are at the end of this post.

Some bills are scheduled for executive session which is when the committee decides whether or not to support bills, amend them, or send them to interim study. The public has until the executive session to make an impact on how they will vote which is very influential when the entire body votes.

And other bills will be voted on by the entire NH House of Representatives. This is when all 400 have the opportunity to vote YEA (to support the committee’s recommendation) or NAY (to oppose the committee’s recommendation). Please contact your legislators before the session day with brief, polite messages and mention you are a constituent.

As always, contact information is at the end of the article.

 

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017: SENATE EDUCATION, ROOM 103 LOB
Public hearings for the following bills

9:00 a.m. SB 105-FN-L, relative to emergency school building aid

9:30 a.m. SB 191-FN, relative to the definition of average daily membership in attendance

10:00 a.m. SB 192-FN, relative to state contributions to public school renovations

***10:30 a.m. SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students
position — SUPPORT
information — Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are funds that children receive to a designated account that are used for specified educational purposes. While they are new to New Hampshire, they are not new to other states. Currently five states offer ESA programs and each is unique with respect to the approved uses, eligibility qualifications, administration, accountability mechanisms, and funding sources. The two established programs in Arizona and Florida have been immensely successful. They put an expanded range of educational services and options within reach, particularly for low-income families who face the greatest challenges financing their children’s educational needs. ESAs have withstood constitutional challenges. This bill has few restrictions regarding eligibility and is considered a “universal” ESA. The dollar amount would be 90% of the per pupil state adequacy amount plus any differentiated aid the home district would receive for students in grades 1 and above; 50% for kindergarten students. With 5% going to administration, the state keeps 5% which represents a savings. Enrollment is optional. Read more in Education Savings Accounts: The Next Evolution of School Choice.

In between public hearings, the Senate Education Committee may exec pending legislation.

***SB 8-FN, relative to school attendance in towns with no public schools
position — SUPPORT
information — This is the senate version of HB 557, the town tuitioning bill, that would allow small districts to make agreements with other public school districts or private schools if the grade-level is not offered in-district. This bill is a return of the Committee of Conference language of HB 1637 (2016) that passed the House and Senate only to be vetoed by Gov. Hassan. It clarifies existing statutes that small towns across the state that do not provide full K through 12 education in-district may enter into tuition agreements with other schools. It is consistent with RSA 194:22 and RSA 193:1. It is also in line with practices by NH districts that have tuition agreements with private schools, even some located out of state. For additional information, read Town Tuitioning in CroydonOptions for Small Towns, and Governor Vetoes School Choice that references the 2016 bill.

***SB 43, relative to non-academic surveys administered by a public school to its students
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill has been in the works for quite some time. HB 206 (2015) created a bi-partisan study committee to examine the numerous non-academic surveys given to our students, and SB 320 (2016) would have required active consent for all surveys, with the exception of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Although SB 320 passed the House and Senate, it was vetoed by Gov. Hassan. The committee received evidence that many non-academic surveys include personal questions, and contrary to current law, students are sometimes required to share this information in class when it is not optional nor anonymous. SB 43 adds the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from the federal Center for Disease Control to the list of surveys that would require active parental consent (opt in). Although the YRBS allows both active and passive consent, undoubtedly school officials and representatives of many social programs will again argue that student privacy is a necessary loss in order to produce higher participation rates and secure funding. The ends do not justify the means. Although some students may benefit from the social programs, it does not justify ignoring current statute, privacy concerns, and parents’ rights to direct their under-age children’s education. For more information including instances of required participation in these questionnaires, read Non-Academic Surveys and Parents’ Rights.

*SB 44, prohibiting the state from requiring implementation of common core standards
position — SUPPORT
information — This is the same language as SB 101 (2015) that passed the House and Senate only to be vetoed by Gov. Hassan. This is a clear and simple bill that expressly prohibits the state from mandating Common Core standards thereby protecting local control and educational diversity.

SB 46, relative to participation in public school cocurricular programs offered in another school district
position — SUPPORT
information — This is a straight-forward bill. It would allow students to participate in extra-curricular activities offered by another district only if the home district does not offer the activity, and assuming there are no costs, the student would only need the receiving district’s permission.

 

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017: HOUSE EDUCATION, ROOM 207 LOB
Public hearings for the following bills

10:00 a.m. HB 641-FN-A, relative to high school students participating in New Hampshire’s dual and concurrent enrollment program and making an appropriation therefor
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill will allow 11th and 12 th grade students to enroll in no more than two NH community college or university classes each year and earn dual credits (college credit while in high school). Additional classes is at the students’ expense. This program will put higher learning opportunities within reach for more students.

***11:00 a.m. HB 647, establishing education freedom savings accounts for children with disabilities
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill is very similar to SB 193, above, but is limited to students with disabilities – children with IEPs or 504 plans. The approved uses are the same as the senate bill, as are the funding amounts. Read more in Education Savings Accounts: The Next Evolution of School Choice.

1:00 p.m. Executive session on the following bills

HB 597-FN-L, relative to calculating the cost of an opportunity for an adequate education and providing fiscal capacity disparity aid

HB 603-FN-A, establishing the John and Molly Stark student debt reduction program and making an appropriation therefor

HB 604-FN-A, establishing the John and Molly Stark workforce opportunity program and making an appropriation therefor

HB 354-FN-A-L, making an appropriation to the department of education to provide additional adequate education grant payments to certain municipalities

HB 356-FN, relative to the per pupil cost of an adequate education

HB 525-FN, relative to stabilization grants for education

HB 583-FN, relative to the calculation of average daily membership in residence and average daily membership in attendance

 

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017: MUNICIPAL & COUNTY GOVT, ROOM 301 LOB
Public hearings for the following bills

*10:00 a.m. HB 313, allowing a town to appropriate funds to create a town scholarship fund
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill clarifies RSA 31:4 that says towns can do virtually anything that is not expressly forbidden. The bill specifically enables towns to vote in a trust fund for the purpose of collecting town scholarship funds. It allows towns to determine the parameters for these optional programs such as the eligibility criteria. This is needed legislation as towns struggle with declining enrollments and increasing costs.

10:40 a.m. HB 419-FN-L, relative to real estate leased for a public charter school
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill requires the annual refund of the pro rata share of property taxes paid by a chartered public school pursuant to a lease of property from a non-exempt owner. This would help chartered public schools considerably as they are constrained how they can use the limited state funding they receive.

 

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2017: HOUSE EDUCATION, ROOM 207 LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive session for the following bills

***HB 647, establishing education freedom savings accounts for children with disabilities
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill is very similar to SB 193, above, but is limited to students with a disability – children with IEPs or 504 plans. The approved uses are the same as the senate bill, as are the funding amounts. Read more in Education Savings Accounts: The Next Evolution of School Choice.

*HB 155-FN, relative to funding for kindergarten programs
position — OPPOSE
information — Kindergarten is not included in compulsory school attendance (RSA 193:1), and is therefore optional to families. Our public school system has many needs, such as catastrophic and building aid, that are not sufficiently addressed and should have a higher priority than funding an optional program. Towns are struggling to meet their school districts’ financial needs and control local taxes. The fiscal note indicates this would increase the Average Daily Membership in Attendance (ADMA) cost by more than $14M starting with 2018. Many communities already offer full-day kindergarten. If this bill passes, it will discourage those that offer half-day programs. Additionally, the benefits of full-day vs half-day Kindergarten program are short-lived at best.

HB 641-FN-A, relative to high school students participating in New Hampshire’s dual and concurrent enrollment program and making an appropriation therefor

***HB 557-FN, relative to school attendance in towns with no public schools
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill is a return of the Committee of Conference language of HB 1637 (2016) that passed the House and Senate only to be vetoed by Gov. Hassan. It clarifies existing statutes that small towns across the state that do not provide full K through 12 education in-district may enter into tuition agreements with other schools. It is consistent with RSA 194:22 and RSA 193:1. It is also in line with practices by NH districts that have tuition agreements with private schools, even some located out of state. For additional information, read Town Tuitioning in CroydonOptions for Small Towns, and Governor Vetoes School Choice that references the 2016 bill.

HB 605-FN-A, establishing a scholarship for students pursuing careers in the service of children and the elderly

HB 556, requiring schools to post the state telephone numbers to report child abuse

HB 477, relative to free speech on campuses in the university system and the community college system

**HB 395, relative to state board of education rulemaking authority over home education programs
position — SUPPORT
information — Although there have been recent improvements with Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) posting minutes in a more timely manner, this bill will explicitly require “effective communication” with the homeschool community. And, although they have submitted annual reports to the state Board of Education, the website only publishes the most recent. This bill also addresses HEAC’s difficulty obtaining a quorum to conduct business. Additionally the bill removes the state BOE’s rule-making authority over home education programs. This is appropriate because in 2010 the state BOE, at the urging of rogue legislators, nearly implemented draconian requirements that did not have legislative approval (HB 367 (2009) and HB 368 (2010)). It took a massive outcry and sustained effort by the entire homeschool community and supporting organizations to defeat this unprecedented attack on homeschooling.

HB 391, relative to checklists in other districts

HB 180, requiring postsecondary education institutions to compile and submit reports on remedial education courses

 

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2017: FINANCE – DIV II, ROOM 209 LOB

10:00 a.m. Division work session on HB 584-FN, relative to chartered public school funding

 

CONTACT LEGISLATORS

The Senate and House Education Committee members with contact information is available here. Brief phone calls are most effective, but personalized emails directed to an individual are also helpful; mention if you are a constituent. Personal stories and messages are helpful. At the bottom we’ve supplied a list of the House committee members’ emails for an easy copy/paste.

To contact the Senate Education Committee, email or call them directly. Members of senate committees do not have a shared email address.

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To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. Below is a list of the House Education Committee members’ emails for an easy copy/paste.

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ladd.nhhouse@charter.net
terry.wolf@leg.state.nh.us
beshaw3@comcast.net
glenn.cordelli@leg.state.nh.us
bob.elliott@leg.state.nh.us
carolyn.halstead@leg.state.nh.us
Mel.Myler@leg.state.nh.us
patricia.cornell@leg.state.nh.us
jimgreniersullivan7@gmail.com
josh.moore@leg.state.nh.us
Mary.Heath@leg.state.nh.us
David.Doherty@leg.state.nh.us
joe@joepitre.com
patchessul@comcast.net
Wayne.Burton@leg.state.nh.us
linda.tanner@leg.state.nh.us

To contact the entire House Municipal & County Government Committee regarding HB 313, allowing a town to appropriate funds to create a town scholarship fund, and HB 419-FN-L, relative to real estate leased for a public charter school, you may send one email to HouseMunicipalandCountyGovt@leg.state.nh.us.