SB 81 (2015) is a bill that upholds local control and limits the authority of one agency of the executive branch. The state Board of Education (BOE) overreaches its authority. In recent years the state BOE has used its position to force policies into effect without legislative direction and strong-arm local districts into compliance.
a) In 2012 to 2013 the state BOE created a moratorium on chartered public schools without legislative direction. The Honorable Michael Balboni, then chairman of the House Education Committee was quoted in Ed Week on 10/12/12 saying that the state BOE’s authority is to “accept and review new charter school applications in their entirety,” with the understanding that any approvals will be contingent on the state providing funding. It jeopardized a federal grant by changing the terms under which it was authorized. The state BOE also issued the moratorium without advanced warning.
b) In late winter 2013 the state Board of Education updated Ed 306, the Minimum Standards for Public School Approval. In their rewrite, they inserted Comprehensive School Psychological Services as Ed 306.25. Where did they receive that direction? Who authorized that significant change, especially given that it does not require prior parental consent? During the review process a couple members of the state BOE inquired whether these services were limited to special education students or if it applied to the general student body. No one knew. If anyone should have known that answer, it was the state BOE. This glaring flaw was brought to their attention, but they ignored it. They nonetheless moved forward with the revision. This is one of the problems HB 303 (2015) addresses.
The state Board of Education members are appointed by the Governor and the body is part of the executive branch. SB 81 would still empower the BOE to manage and supervise the state Department of Education, but require them to work in cooperation with the state legislature, local school boards, and school administrative units (SAUs). Currently it is an imbalance of power too heavily weighted to the executive branch and not enough to the duly-elected representative bodies closest to New Hampshire citizens.
Please contact the Senate Education Committee (SEC) asking them to support local control by issuing an Ought to Pass (OTP) recommendation on SB 81. This bill has a public hearing on Thursday, February 5, 2015 and the SEC may vote on it at any time.
Senate Education Committee
Sen. John Reagan, Chairman firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Nancy Stiles, Vice Chairman email@example.com
Sen. Kevin Avard Kevin.Avard@leg.state.nh.us
Sen. Molly Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. David Watters email@example.com