ETC Scholarships Help At-Risk Children

Children have one opportunity for an education that fits their needs. Unfortunately, not every child is able to obtain that “fit” at their local public school; sometimes they need an alternative.

Wealthy families can access these options, while other families cannot. That is where New Hampshire’s Education Tax Credit program can make all the difference.

Children who live in poverty have life-long academic challenges. They are at greater risk for dropping out of school, being held back grades, and having lower academic outcomes. They have the most to gain from the Education Tax Credit scholarship program.

As defined in statute, the ETC program can only help low-income students, those at or below 300% of the federal poverty limit. The 2018 guideline for a family of four is a maximum annual income of $75,300. These families also qualify for a range of federal assistance programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Of this year’s scholarship children, 62% are at the Free and Reduced income level which is $46,400 annually for a family of four.

Sadly, House Bill 632 seeks to repeal this successful program. To date 877 low-income children have utilized the scholarship since its inception in 2013. This year alone, 413 children are benefiting from the scholarship. If HB 632 becomes law, these children would need to return to educational environments that do not fit their needs.

Below is a letter from Maureen, a grandmother of two scholarship recipients. She wrote to the House Ways and Means Committee urging them to reject HB 632. Her letter is shared with permission.

The committee will hold part 2 of the public hearing this afternoon and has not voted on the bill yet. Please continue to contact the committee. Calls are best, but emails are helpful. We have a tool that sends emails to the committee as well as your own state representatives; the message can be customized for additional impact.

Greetings, All,

I was at the first hearing and waited until the end to speak but did not have the chance.  I am unable to make the second hearing so I’d like to write to you what I wanted to say.  Please reject the ETC repeal bill!!!!  I heard so many stories that day of children who have benefited from having the chance to go to other schools and I have one myself.

My grandsons have the wonderful opportunity to attend St. John Regional School and they are thriving there.  The oldest is 7 and attended Penacook Elementary for kindergarten and first grade.  He cried almost every day because he didn’t want to go to school.  He was picked on by other kids and no one did anything about it even though his mother went to the school and tried to work things out.  He was not doing well academically and got an IEP with no improvement.  When my daughter asked the special education teacher why he still couldn’t write at the end of last year she said “he didn’t like it when I worked with him” so she let him type instead of write.  He got a progress report with low marks toward the end of last year and his mother was concerned about whether he would be ready to move to second grade and the teacher said he would be fine. The following report card was much better and he was promoted to second grade.  My daughter suspected that he was just being pushed along and looked into SJRS.  He and his brother got in.  The school wanted to start the older in second grade to see how he would do.  Within two weeks it was clear that he needed to repeat the first grade.  It was a blow to his ego, but he got over it quickly and is so happy now.  He is getting the attention he needs from his teacher and is learning so much.  He is thriving and getting good marks.  He likes school so much that when he was sick, he still wanted to go!  The difference is like night and day.  His new school is very important to this little boy and his younger brother.  They are both treated with respect by the other students.  If not, then the matter is addressed swiftly and parents are notified.

I literally thank God every day that this scholarship program is available to my grandchildren.  It would be devastating to these children and many others if this opportunity was taken away from them. I sincerely hope that you will consider these kids that don’t fit into public school and vote to reject the ECT repeal bill.


Maureen Rowley