Town Tuitioning Passes the House

Great news out of Concord today! Earlier this afternoon the NH House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 8, the town tuitioning (aka Croydon) bill, in a 210 to 147 roll call vote. It should head to the Senate Education Committee shortly where they will determine a recommendation to the full Senate to concur, not concur, or have a Committee of Conference to negotiate the differences between the versions passed by each body.

The bill as amended by the House reached a compromise and received strong bipartisan support. Roughly 50 small towns across the state do not provide Kindergarten through 12th grade in-district and must tuition out a portion of their student population. The bill clarifies that local school boards may contract with public and nonsectarian private schools in tuition agreements. This is consistent with existing practices. School districts often provide private school placement for students with special needs, and some extend that opportunity for other students as well. They may also do so per the Manifest Educational Hardship statute as well as RSA 194:22 and RSA 193:1.

Like other tuition agreements, these “school tuition programs” keep local school boards accountable for ensuring sending students receive an “opportunity for an adequate education” and have access to special needs services.

This version of the bill also addresses accountability without requiring private schools to participate in the statewide assessments. The amendment allows private schools to use any nationally recognized standardized academic assessment, and many already administer one or another, so it should not pose any additional financial or administrative burden. Other requirements mirror those for public schools already in statute so they are equitable and balanced.

The bill could be in the hands of the Senate Education Committee as early as next week and the full senate possibly by Thursday, June 15th. We will post specific dates once the calendars are published. We expect the senate will support the bill, but encouraging calls and emails are always helpful, especially personal comments from constituents. The senate roster and contact information are below. To find your senator, go to Who’s My Senator or use the district map.

For additional details about the House version of SB 8, read Town Tuitioning Bill Advances.

Once SB 8 is signed by Governor Sununu, it will strengthen Croydon’s legal appeal to the NH Supreme Court. More details about Croydon’s school choice program and legal battle are available in this article.

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